Thursday, March 10, 2005

Art Therapy Presentation Outline - VI. Critique of Art Therapy

VI. Critique of Art Therapy

A. Benefits
1) Henry Schafer-Simmern showed through working with many different groups of clients that art expression naturally evolves on its own over time in anyone, without teaching of concepts or exercises, if given the opportunity. (Allen, p xviii)
2) J.K. Dubowski suggested that the “ability and eagerness to produce marks seems innate.“ At approximately 18 months of age the human child starts to draw.
3) Margarita Wood suggested that “thinking in pictures lies at the root of awareness.“ (Dalley, 1984)
4) Perceived as less threatening than many traditional interventions. (Kahn, ¶ 2)
5) It provides a permanent record of the client's mental state. (Kahn, ¶ 7)
6) It's flexible enough to be used with more than one approach and can be very client-centered, giving a safe outlet for disturbing themes. (Kahn, ¶ 5)

B. Limitations
1) “Stereotyped behaviors occur at times when the level of stimulation available to the individual is either too low or too high.“ -- J. K. Dubowski (1984)
2) Naumberg (1958:514) “It is especially difficult to free an artist from the tyranny of his technical knowledge. When archaic forms begin to break through from his unconscious, during treatment, the artist becomes eager to capitalize, immediately, on this new content for his professional work. He must then be persuaded to postpone the application of such unconscious imagery to conscious work until therapy is completed.”
3) Freud (1951:21) “Thinking in pictures is, therefore, only a very incomplete form of becoming conscious.”
4) Champernowne (1971): Logical analysis and translation of pictured ideas into words can be dangerous and destructive in the hands of inexperienced therapists. This is why a good analysis for any therapist is a great advantage. He should then know how not to interfere. The art form has its own validity and to translate from one language to another is bound to bring loss or error.”
5) Cunningham-Dax and Reitman: criticized Freudian and Jungian analysis, suggested that the therapist ‘pre-determines’ art work by their interpretations. Though Cunningham-Dax emphasized the passive role (Cunningham-Dax, 1953), ‘observed that when Adamson was absent, attendances at the studio declined and those who painted did poor work of little psychiatric value.’

C. Disagreements amongst practitioners
1) Some argue that the art therapist is essentially a trained artist who does therapy and there are those who argue that he is essentially a trained psychotherapist who does art. (Birtchnell, 1984) We believe it depends on the individual art therapist.
2) Spontaneity and self-revelation should be at the heart of therapy, rather than any learned techniques by the artist. Dalley (1984) suggests that this works better in group setting where other group members do not have skill to hide behind. In many cases art therapy caused lasting change in an artist’s performance.
3) Shaun McNiff worked with inhabitants of a state hospital. (Allen, p xv) Saw his clients' art as keys to their soul, more than clinical data. (Allen, p xix)

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