Theoretical Advances of Art Therapy

TAoAT 2000 conference papers

An analysis of the art therapy field and the concept of symbolic work as the core of the art therapy approach

Dr Paola LuzzattoDr Paula Luzzatto addressing the TAoAT 2000 conference

The 'art therapy field' was represented by the traditional triangular diagram with art therapist, patient and art making at different points. Dr Luzzatto defined three roles for the therapist within the art therapy field: as facilitator of symbolic image making, therapeutic ally in the process and as an object of projection. In explaining the importance of .symbolic art work she referred to the work of Milton Erikson on the technique of using metaphors in therapy. She went on to define and explore in detail the different roles of the therapist within the art therapy field. She stressed that the therapist should be aware that the image rnay also be used as a way of not communicating - a defence. More controversially, she asserted that the art therapist must 'take responsibility for the patient who feels empty' when presented with art materials. She put forward various ways of assisting the patient in using art materials, such as, suggesting scribbling or providing an image to work from such as the outline of a body. Dr Luzzatto also promoted the idea of encouraging patients to play with images as a way of facilitating 'the elaboration of symbolic imagery' . She suggested patients could for example cut a picture. She described this process as the patient 'moving in, moving around and moving out' of their image.

Dr Luzzatto focused lastly on the transference relationship between patient, art work and therapist and the imporĀ­tance of the therapist demonstrating their separateness from the client through communicating their differing conception of the art work to the patient.


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Index of presenters

Malcolm Learmonth

Dr Paola Luzzatto

Sarah Bennet

Pauline Mottram

Joy Schaverien

Marian Liebmann