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Chapter 4 Part 1

What are the therapeutic properties of self-drawings?

The previous chapter identified the importance of the art therapist. Carrying out their role professionally is most valuable in order to help the schizophrenic sufferer get the most benefit from their drawings.
When engaging in drawings of the self and working through their understanding and significance at that time the individual should start to gain therapeutic properties from their experiences. One of the main activities involved when drawing the self is self-expression. According to Diane Methot, an occupational therapist as cited in Moreau (2001, p18) art as an expression can help individuals with mental illness, she suggests,

... art can be a safe way for people with mental illness to express their thoughts and feelings, regardless of ability or technique. This is re-enforced by one particular schizophrenic, called Bart who remarks on creative expression helping him recover from schizophrenia, here he claims, it supported him through his illness, "I managed to turn to art as a passion, and it carried me through a lot,..

According to Warren (1993, p42), "The goal of one aiding others through the visual arts is to see positive change in self-esteem and self-expression, and an increase in motor skills and the quality of physical and emotional health of the persons with whom we work."
Self-expression allows the individual to communicate their feelings, thoughts and perceptions onto their artwork. This carries a number of advantages. With reference to the schizophrenic sufferer, it allows them to give meanings and understanding to their confused state of mind. As the individual draws themselves significant characteristics appear. Though discussion with the therapist the client can gradually make sense of the artwork, in turn, helping them understand and gain control over their schizophrenic symptoms.
Eventually the sufferer can find a real sense of self through their mixed up perception of who they are. When addressing the art therapy process, in particular the positive outcomes. Dalley, Rifkind and Terry (1993, p4) claim, "Real growth comes when the person in therapy is able to have a sufficiently clear sense of self that they are able to differentiate themselves in relationship to the other."
The materials used to create the self-portraits have valuable outcomes attached to them. Dalley (1984, p176) explains how the materials can help the individual, claiming,
"Painting and drawing, the use of shape, colour, and symbol can be powerful communications and can provide a more direct link with the individual's state of being."

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