Art therapy with people diagnosed with psychosis: therapists’ experiences of their work and the journey to their current practice
Holttum, S. 2021. Art therapy with people diagnosed with psychosis: therapists’ experiences of their work and the journey to their current practice. International Journal of Art Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1080/17454832.2021.1893370
Background: There was insufficient understanding of how art therapists experience their work with people with psychosis-related diagnoses, and of their practice development.
Methods: Within a grounded theory framework (Corbin & Strauss, 2015; Strauss & Corbin, 1990), interviews and a focus group carried out in the years 2015 to 2017 elicited the experiences of 18 UK-based art therapists, working in a range of National Health Service (NHS) contexts, concerning art therapy in relation to psychosis and how they developed their current practice. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and analysed to build theory.
Results: The grounded theory proposes how practice and its development intertwine. Training confers resilience but therapists learn greatly from their clients, enhancing their ability for alliance-building. Therapists’ early struggles also spur further training. Skills for trauma are helpful. Clients may become stuck or disengage, and/or develop through ongoing engagement with art and the art therapist, who supports their journey. The service and wider societal contexts impact the art therapist’s work through their effect on clients and/or the art therapist’s ability to attune to clients.
Conclusions: The findings concur with previous research regarding common therapeutic factors, especially the alliance, and on other therapists’ practice development.
|Keywords||Art therapy; Psychosis; Practice development|
|Journal||International Journal of Art Therapy|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.1080/17454832.2021.1893370|
|Online||24 Mar 2021|
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||25 Feb 2021|
|Accepted||16 Feb 2021|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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The paper reports on the findings from in-depth interviews carried out with UK art therapists experienced in working with people who have been given a psychosis-related diagnosis. This work was one of several streams that fed into the development of the BAAT Guidelines on Art Therapy for People with a Psychosis-Related Diagnosis (Wright & Holttum, 2020).
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