Some clients and therapists follow a faith-based spiritual practice. Some clients have found converting to a particular faith a supportive move. Others have actively rejected their family religious affiliation. And many others are ‘seekers’, searching for truth, or even enlightenment.
What happens when the beliefs of therapists and clients are possibly in conflict? How does the therapist work with the spoken and unspoken prejudices in the clients? How are these dynamics expressed through the artwork and the therapeutic relationship?
In terms of art therapy theory in Britain and North America, the major influences have been drawn from the ‘cultures’ of western psychiatry and psychology (McNiff, 1984), producing a predominantly ethnocentric theory base dominated by European and North American practitioners (Lewis, 1997). Some authors have identified the art therapy training programmes, both here and in North America, as contributing to a narrow and therefore culturally restricted theoretical base.
The impact on practice can lead to cultural-bound assumptions or stereotyping, when generalising the meaning of a client’s artwork (Chebaro, 1998); the avoidance of cultural variables leading to a ‘culture-blind’ approach (Hocoy, 2002); or the impact of conscious and unconscious cultural transference that occur between therapist and client and which may result in a negative impact on treatment (Coseo, 1997).
We will look at the impact on practice as well as the alternative models that are available to art therapists. We will use a combination of art-based learning, reflection on practice and theoretical material to widen our perspectives on difference in our personal experience, our art and our therapy practice.
To enrich our clinical work by focussing on some complex themes which occur regularly in practice. To reflect on the internal conflicts that are activated in clients and therapists regarding faith, observance and culture. To understand the significance of ‘seeking’ and how this may be influenced or undermined in different cultures, including the culture of therapy. To be more at ease in articulating difference and how this can be useful in supporting and managing the therapeutic work.
The day will comprise a combination of learning, discussion and art-making. You are invited to bring a recent story relating to any of the above themes.
Hephzibah Kaplan RATh MA; has over 15 years experience working in adult mental health and education. She has taught art therapy internationally in Germany, Greece, India, & South Africa and enjoys working with people from different cultures and religious perspectives. In addition to her diverse private practice, she is founder/Director of the London Art Therapy Centre.
Gary Nash RATh, MA; has over twenty years of art therapy experience working in adult mental health, voluntary sector & learning disabilities services. Gary has developed art therapy practice and research in South India and China. He is a Baat registered Supervisor and Registered private practitioner. He is currently working in private practice, developing art therapy in schools and is a founder member of the London Art Therapy Centre.
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