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Art Outside the Lines: Adolescence, Identity, and Art Therapy
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Art Outside the Lines: Adolescence, Identity, and Art Therapy

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Adolescents in treatment programs are often reluctant participants, but, when engaged, can experience tremendous growth and motivation to change. The challenge lies in both getting and keeping them …

Adolescents in treatment programs are often reluctant participants, but, when engaged, can experience tremendous growth and motivation to change. The challenge lies in both getting and keeping them engaged. In this workshop, we’ll discuss creative interventions that can change the way you work with youth and inspire them to connect with themselves on a deep level as they explore their identities.

Participants will:
• Learn developmental stages related to the adolescence years and critical characteristics of emotional, cognitive, and social development
• Explore the idea of adolescent identity development as expressed in art work
• Practice art interventions that further connection and build rapport with youth in treatment programs

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine

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  • 1. Art Outside of the Lines: Adolescence, Identity, and Art TherapySarah E. Kremer, ATR-BC
  • 2. Art Outside of the LinesAdolescents in treatment programs are often reluctant participants, but, when engaged, can experience tremendous growth and motivation to change. The challenge lies in both getting and keeping them engaged. In this workshop, we’ll discuss creative interventions that can change the way you work with youth and inspire them to connect with themselves on a deep level as they explore their identities.Participants will:•  Learn developmental stages related to the adolescence years and critical characteristics of emotional, cognitive, and social development•  Explore the idea of adolescent identity development as expressed in art work•  Practice art interventions that further connection and build rapport with youth in treatment programs
  • 3. Introductions • Name • Agency • Why you’re here • One adolescent success/ passion/ transformative moment
  • 4. •  Be here•  Step up and step back•  Keep what others share confidential; feel free to share your own experience•  Be open to discomfort•  Keep technology interruptions to minimum
  • 5. What Is Art Therapy?•  Mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages•  Based on belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to –  Resolve conflicts and problems –  Develop interpersonal skills –  Manage behavior –  Reduce stress –  Increase self-esteem –  Enhance self-awareness –  Achieve insight
  • 6. Who Receives Art Therapy?•  Can be used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, and families•  Assess and treat people with –  Anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems –  Substance abuse and addictions –  Family and relationship issues –  Abuse and domestic violence –  Social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness –  Trauma and loss –  Physical, cognitive, and neurological problems –  Psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness•  Can be found in settings like hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices
  • 7. Why Use Art Therapy?•  Experiential – clients learn by doing•  Preverbal thinking and feeling – direct expression of inner experiences that are images•  Spontaneous and uncensored material – images escape usual verbal defenses
  • 8. Why Use Art Therapy?•  Objectification and projection – works to separate self from issue•  Permanence – art work exists in real world and cannot be changed or forgotten•  Art as transitional object – growing reliance on self through art for understanding and less dependence on therapist relationship
  • 9. How Do Art Therapists Work? Art  As   Therapy   Art  As   Psychotherapy  
  • 10. How Do Art Therapists Work? Art   Therapist   Client   Art  Work  
  • 11. Art Outside of The Lines
  • 12. Art Outside of The Lines Project•  Grant funded through Peninsula Community Foundation•  June 2006 – June 2007•  6 groups in youth-serving programs (3 detention, 2 day treatment, 1 residential)•  Hispanic, Black, Caucasian, Asian, South Pacific Islander, Southeast Asian backgrounds of youth•  Masks and Sacred Space/Altar Boxes –  Multicultural and centuries-old history –  Safety in expression•  Goals: participants will learn more about expression through art, make positive choices as engage in positive activity, enhance self-concept/self confidence
  • 13. Art Outside of The Lines Results•  51 young men,77 young women served, 128 youth total•  60 masks, 35 altar boxes•  Inconsistent group membership•  High level of engagement•  Desire to finish art work brought them back•  High level of respect•  Eager to attend sessions, as reported by staff•  Masks and altars displayed at Pacific Art League for one month and San Mateo County Courthouse lounge area for another month
  • 14. Art Outside of The Lines ProjectMasks Sacred Space/•  Historical review of Altar Boxes uses •  Safe space –  Religious/spiritual •  Memorial –  Death/transitions •  Transformational –  Agricultural •  Future   –  Celebratory•  Sketches•  Outside vs. Inside
  • 15. Art Outside of The Lines Results
  • 16. Themes  MASKS    ALTARS  •  Duali:es   •  Unresolved  Grief   - Good/Evil   - “RIP”   - Black/White   - Images/phrases  of  remembered   - Female/Male   •  Powerful  Emo:ons  •  Heritage   - Glued  shut,  wrapped  with  chain   - Symbols  of  cultural  iden:ty   - Fire,  explosions  in  images  •  Individual  Iden:ty   - Ashes  from  Transforma:onal   - Realis:c  interpreta:ons   Altars  included  in  box,  usually   - Cartoonish  interpreta:ons   sealed  shut    •  Symbolism   - Movement  between  emo:ons   - Use  of  highly  symbolic  imagery   •  Uncertain  Futures   - BuJerflies   - Unable  to  imagine  much  :me   - Hearts   beyond  immediate  future   - Rainbows   - Fantasy  images   - Cultural  symbols  
  • 17. TAKE A BREAK
  • 18. Adolescence StagesDevelopmental changes Stages•  Physical growth •  Early Adolescence (11-13 initiation)•  Cognition •  Mid-adolescence (14-15•  Psychology of Self beginning) •  Late adolescence (17-21•  Family start)•  Peer Group•  Sexuality Actual movement between stages and changes dependent upon cultural, economic, educational factors  
  • 19. •  IDENTITY: to form sense of self•  BELONGING: to be accepted and loved by others•  MASTERY: to be good at something•  INDEPENDENCE: to gain control of destiny•  GENEROSITY: to give to others
  • 20. Counseling Practices Important for Adolescents•  Building rapport•  Creating safe space or “holding environment”•  Therapist as “container” for “painful feelings and other unwelcome experiences” Kotin, J. (1995)
  • 21. Art Therapy Practices Important for Adolescents•  Relationship between art therapist, client, and art•  Trauma/adverse experiences –  Safety in non-verbal expression –  Non-threatening interactions –  Art becomes transitional object and concrete reminder of experience –  Releases emotion in container other than therapist•  Process vs. product Rubin (1984)
  • 22. Art Therapy Practices Important for Adolescents•  Adolescence issues –  Expression is reflection of self in identity formation –  Addresses competence and autonomy tasks –  Effective with non-verbal behavior•  Positive risk-taking behavior Rubin (1984)
  • 23. ACTIVITY: ADOLESCENT ART•  Guided visualization –  Choose specific client or friend –  Think of self at same age –  Focus on this age during visualization•  Art: Choose either mask sketch or collage –  Think of either self at age of visualization or specific client or friend
  • 24. ACTIVITY: ADOLESCENT ART •  Mask sketch – Outside: who you are on outside, how others see you, or how you would like others to see you – Inside: who you are on inside, what you don’t show to others, or what you wish others would know about you •  Collage – Likes and dislikes, what is/was important
  • 25. ACTIVITY: ADOLESCENT ART Writing prompts for mask •  The name of my mask is •  3 words that describe my mask •  When I look at my mask, I immediately think of •  The purpose of my mask is •  I would wear my mask (when, where, how, why)
  • 26. ACTIVITY: ADOLESCENT ART Writing prompts for collage •  The title of my collage is •  3 words that describe my collage •  When I look at my collage, I immediately think of •  I am represented in my collage by •  If I were to make a collage about my life now, [parts] would be the same and [parts] would be different
  • 27. PAIR SHARE•  Partners take turns sharing thoughts and creations•  Decide who will be first to speak and first to listen•  Listeners listen fully without interruption or commentary or reflection – just witness•  When time to switch, acknowledge each other with gratitude before moving on
  • 28. Art in Therapy Materials•  Drawing: pencils, colored pencils, oil pastels, markers, paper•  Painting: watercolor, tempera, card stock, brushes, water cups•  Collage: pre-cut magazine images, construction paper, tissue paper, glitter, glue sticks, scissors•  Modeling: model magic, play-doh, plasticine, water-based clay
  • 29. Art in Therapy Tips•  Provide safe and structured setting•  “No mistakes in art”•  Be thoughtful: choice vs. directed•  Emphasize process vs. product•  Experience idea yourself first•  Censorship of images – requirements from setting?•  Ownership and displaying – be upfront
  • 30. Art in Therapy Tips•  Beware own unresolved issues•  Ask client to describe elements•  Analyzing vs. listening•  Be empathic, encourage storytelling, accept what is communicated•  Resist interpretation or projection•  Include time for cleaning up = closure of experience
  • 31. Art in Therapy Tips for Adolescents •  Use art activities to promote self-reliance and problem solving •  Provide opportunities for experimentation, learning, making mistakes, making decisions •  Defining inappropriate images before beginning
  • 32. Art in Therapy Ideas with Adolescents •  Collage, existing images •  Self portraits •  Past, present, future •  Concrete themes •  Individual, pair, group work •  Technology – digital photos, video
  • 33. Cautionary Note•  Art is powerful tool•  Must be used with care and skill•  Requires understanding of art and client population•  Respect importance and uniqueness of emotional life of children•  Be neither fearful nor fearless, but proceed with open eyes, and with respect for value of child as well as power of art Rubin, 1978
  • 34. References/ResourcesAmerican Art Therapy Association: Art Therapy in Schools Toolkit, www.americanarttherapyassociation.orgNorthern California Art Therapy Association: Local art therapists and workshops, www.norcata.orgRiley, S. (1999). Contemporary Art Therapy with Adolescents. London: Jessica Kingsley Publications, Inc.Gil, E. (1996). Treating Abused Adolescents. New York: The Guilford Press.Fincher, S. (2000). Coloring Mandalas For Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression. Boston: Shambhala.Fincher, S. (2004). Coloring Mandalas For Balance, Harmony, and Spiritual Well-Being. Boston: Shambhala.Mandali, M. (2000). Peace Mandala Coloring Book. Montana: Mandali Publications.Mandali, M. (2000). Everyones Mandala Coloring Book. Montana: Mandali Publications.Art With Heart’s Chill ‘n Spill books and Therapists Companion www.artwithheart.orgSalvo, D. (1997). Home Altars of Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • 35. Thank You!sarah.kremer@gmail.com

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