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What Do You See?: Phenomenology of Therapeutic Art Expression
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There is a wealth of Art Therapy literature using psychalalytic theory, and there is a small amount of work by brief and narrative therapists on the use of Art in Therapy. While there are a few journal articles, and a few chapters in books on the phenomenological use of Art in Therapy, Mala's book is the only one that I know of where a whole book is dedicated to Phenomenology.
As a therapist and researcher, I have found the second chapter very useful. In this chapter, Mala gives a clear description of a four step sequence that a therapist can take a client through. One begins with "pre art play", then shifts to "the process of art work", to "phenomenological intuiting", then the "what do you see? procedure". It is my experience, that these steps usually lead the client to a deeper sense of self understanding and also a sense of resolution. What emerges on the page can be unexpected, often providing a unique insight into the client's problem. In this process, unexpected solutions also emerge.
I have found Mala's process to be a very powerful theraputic tool, particularily when clients have sensitive concerns that they may have difficulty verbalising. For example, some clients, who have been abused as children, can be very reluctant to verbally describe their experiences. These clients are more comforetable drawing their experiences. They may also feel safer with the drawing process because it allows them to externalise the matter of concern. What they promised not to talk about, can sometimes be drawn.