Conditions And Population

The following technique can be used in either workshops or continuous therapy groups.* When used in a therapy group it needs enough time to both create the drawings and work through their

"•Thanks to Tami Elad for introducing me to this technique.

meaning. Therefore it needs more than the common ninety-minute session. It can be spread between several consecutive sessions or applied in a marathon session. It does not matter whether the group is short-term or long-term.

The participants do not need to have any artistic or special drawing ability. The group can be a general therapy group for mixed disorders or focused on body image and eating disorders. The important factor is that the therapist is flexible enough to change the structure and use action methods in the group.

Patients with eating disturbance disorders or people with problems in body image can benefit enormously from this technique. It is also recommended for people with low self-esteem.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERVENTION Materials and Preparations

You need to prepare big sheets of paper. The size of the paper should be bigger than a human body. The paper can be bought in a store that supplies paper or art material in bulk, which you need to cut in advance into long pieces for each group member. You also need to buy several water-based paints (five colors is more than enough), and paint brushes. You also need as many pencils as group members, and adhesive tape (or any other method) to attach the drawings to the wall as in an exhibition.

Tell the group members in advance that they are going to work with paints, so they should dress properly. The group room should be spacious enough for all the group members to lie on the floor and not feel crowded. The floor should be smooth, no rug or carpet.

Instructions for Intervention

Step 1: Dividing into Twos

Ask the group members to choose a partner for the exercise. If the number of the members is uneven, the last person joins a couple into a threesome. There is no need to choose someone of own or opposite sex, just someone you want to work with on this group exercise.

Using Art Therapy Technique in a Psychodyiiamic-Oriented Group

Step 2: Drawing Your Partner's Body Contour

Each couple spreads the big sheet of paper on the floor, and one of them lies down on it in any position she or he wants to be drawn. The other partner draws the contours of the body of the person lying down with a pencil. This is done by marking the outlines of the body lying on the floor, as close as possible to the body without touching it. Then they change positions and the person whose figure was drawn, now draws the other person's body contour.

Step 3: Paint Yourself

Ask the group members to use color to paint themselves. The drawing should represent the painter's self-image. In this stage each group member works alone and uses the colors to paint his or her body outlines. This is the most important part and it needs enough time to let the participant become immersed in the work so allow for thirty to forty minutes for this stage. Tell members that the artistic quality of the work is unimportant and that the product will not be evaluated for its artistic value. People can use whatever colors they want in whatever form they prefer.

Step 4: Pictures at an Exhibition

When the colors dry, hang the pictures on the walls (using the adhesive tape), side by side, but with space between them (as an exhibition). Ask the group members to walk from one painting to another and absorb the impressions, without talking and without asking whose picture it is.

Step 5: Associations, Feedback, and Projections

The group sits in the usual circle. Ask a volunteer to bring his or her drawing in order for the group to work with it. The volunteer puts the picture in the center and group members are asked to associate about what they see. You need to explain that the request is not to interpret ("this drawing shows your low self-esteem," or "the black color in the area of the head shows that you have some dark thoughts"), but to associate ("it looks like a robot," or "the colors remind me of a butterfly," or "this is like a picture of a queen").

As it usually happens, some of the associations might catch some of the unconscious processes of the painter, and some are mere projections of the person who is associating to the stimulus. It does not matter. The person whose picture is in the center should just listen to the associations and let them in.

Step 6: What Did You Learn About Yourself?

The individual responds to the associations. The task is not to say who is right and who is wrong, but to connect as many associations as possible to meaningful personal issues, and issues previously worked through in the group sessions.

Step 7: Initiating Interaction

Now comes the time for integrating the individual work with the group process. Allow and encourage interaction between the individual and the group.

Step 8: Repeat the Previous Steps Until All Group Members Finish Working

As previously related, it might take a few hours or sessions to allow all the group members to do the work.

Step 9: Group Process

Discuss with the group how this experience worked for them and what they learned about themselves and their self-image.

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