Saturday, April 30, 2011

Design Based Art Therapy

Here's proof that design can be therapeutic!...

I am a full time mom, wife and artist- and a part time expressive therapist and teacher.

I am an "expressive therapist"- and not a Clinical Art Therapist because I didn't complete my masters program (I gave birth to ZZ 1/2 way through- I haven't found the time to go back;), but still I was fortunate enough to get a job in the field without a masters.  I work part time on the inpatient units of a psychiatric hospital every other weekend- and I really love the work.  I look forward to going in every day I'm there, and I am go grateful for the time, conversations and experiences people share with me during my (mostly art, but sometime yoga, or even sometimes kickball groups).  Today was a particularly rewarding, although difficult day - so I felt like I should share some of the stuff I do there with you all.

This project/exercise I came up with about a year ago while flipping through an old Real Simple in the office at work one day.  I found this multi-page spread on "chairs under $100"- there were all sorts- probably about 200.  I thought it would be a super-cool starting point for an art therapy group- a design-based art therapy group:) I used the spread that day- and then came up with my own chair spread sheet- collected from various sources.

So- here's how it goes:

I cut out all of these chairs- spread them on the table- I also put out white 11"x18" paper, pencils, markers, colored pencils, watercolors, brushes, glue sticks, magazines-
and give the following directive:

"choose the chair that best represents you and create a composition using that chair- it may contain words, images or both. You may use some or all of the materials that are here." Once they are completed everyone is welcome to share what they came up with- explaining why they chose their specific chair.

The variety of outcomes from patients is so interesting- from collages, to poems, to paintings.  It's a really versatile and enlightening exercise!

If I had a fancy computer program- I would have scanned the spread sheets in- but you get the idea-
I also would have circled the round red swivel chair for me- because it looks comfy and safe, a little retro-modern in style, it's a fun color (although I'd prefer it in yellow), and I'd be able to cross my legs in it (my preferred way of sitting:)

So- if you were a chair- which would you be and why?

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