Friday, June 03, 2005

Abstract - Art Therapy in Family Counseling for schizophernics

Author: Kwiatkowska, H. Y. (2001). FAMILY ART THERAPY: Experiments with a New Technique. American Journal of Art Therapy; Aug2001, Vol. 40 Issue 1, p27

Purpose: To explore the use of art as a means of communication and self-expression within the family group. Is the schizophrenic patient's family different from other families, and if so, how does it differ?

Subjects: On a small psychiatric unit the patients, young adults or late adolescents (schizophrenics and non-schizophrenics), are hospitalized.

Procedure: Conjoint family psychotherapy sessions twice weekly (patient, parents, and siblings), in certain cases regular weekly sessions of parents with social workers, psychological tests, and family art therapy. Besides this, in most cases, the patient is seen in individual psychotherapy by one of the psychiatrists who also sees him with his family.

Results: We experimented with several approaches to the structure of these sessions. Families (that) were seen from the beginning as a group of all the available members including the patient (were) much more successful. Only for particular reasons such as disruptiveness, resistance, or need for support was one of the members of the family seen alone. If individual sessions arc too readily used in the face of every difficulty, the goal of understanding and working therapeutically with the family as a whole is impaired. Sometimes a directive approach is helpful, especially when the suggestions are given to the entire group. Although specific instructions are never given, the art therapist may suggest a new medium, or an experiment in which the entire group has to take part. In family art therapy as in family psychotherapy, the emphasis is always on spontaneous self-expression. One of these is the well-known scribble technique, used with the families in a special way. The family is less guarded than in the verbal situation; the groupings, the dependency of one member on another, become obvious in the choice of places, media and subjects. Anger and hostility are expressed without such an intense feeling of guilt; family members are often able to accept their real perception of themselves and perceive the other members of the family through their art projections as different from their habitual stereotyped images of one another. The similarity of the patterns of thought and perception in the schizophrenic patient, his parents and siblings, which were observed repeatedly in different sets of families. Frequently a parent, whose perception of reality seems quite appropriate, goes along with the bizarre, fragmented productions of the other parent and of the patient.

Conclusions: Working with family groups promises a valuable and exciting new role for art therapy. It is as yet too early to evaluate its future development. However, intensive study of the art productions and recordings of the sessions continues to bring forth new and creative ways of viewing the family of the schizophrenic.

Remarks: This was a very interesting article. I found the implications that schizophrenia may be brought on by a family social construct enlightening, as was the dynamics between therapist and family in regards to getting attention.

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