Potential Space: A Hands on Art Therapy Experience

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 a group of SIUE art therapy teachers and students (Megan Robb, Shelly Goebl-Parker, Judy McGrath, Diana Dykyj, YunCHe Chiu, Laura Lengyel, Lisa Thompson-Gibson, and Renee Tate) met with with a group of eager participants for a hands on exercise in art therapy.

The event was part of the Spring 2012 College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium “Thinking About Space.” The exercises were a part of a presentation titled “Art Therapists’ Potential Space,” the goal of which was to convey how an art therapist goes about providing a means of expression for their patients.

The first exercise involved pairing participants up into teams of two and setting them loose on an assortment of art supplies: string, balloons, scented markers, cardboard, sheets, and paper. The instructions given to the pairs were to use the materials to convey the ideas of trust, comfort, and safety. Upon completion participants were asked to explain their work, and why they chose to make what they did.

The second exercise called participants to pair up into teams of four, combining their work with that of another team. After this was finished they were questioned again to determine how the meaning of the art had been changed or enhanced by combining the spaces.

After the hands-on time, participants were given a lecture explaining some of the challenges faced by art therapists in creating a work environment for their patients. Some of these include: selecting approachable materials, respectfully disposing of art work after a session, and allowing the patient to work free of the therapists’ own expectations.


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