"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Art psychotherapy may help people discover themselves through museum exhibits.

The idea of ​​receiving psychotherapy in a museum could seem unusual. However, art psychotherapists are increasingly seeking to the wealthy resources of museums and galleries to assist their clinical work. Art therapy, or art psychotherapy, sees people expressing their feelings and experiences through art, in addition to (or as a substitute of) words. It might be used to assist people of all ages, living with a wide selection of emotional or physical conditions.

NHS art psychotherapists often work in specialist therapy rooms in hospitals or outpatient centres, but Our recent study We desired to explore how art psychotherapy in a museum may benefit a gaggle with complex mental health difficulties. Research has found that individuals “Look at yourselfin museum objects, and it reflects our response to the objects. Can you tell us a little about yourself?. For example, an object may evoke powerful emotions, or symbolize a facet of our current or past experiences. So we desired to tap into museum objects to assist our participants understand themselves more. To our knowledge, this was the primary time museum objects can be used for this sort of art psychotherapy for adults accessing NHS mental health services.

We predicted, based on the outcomes from Arts in Health And Art therapy case studies, that a museum setting may help foster creativity amongst group members. There can also be Evidence That a non-medical place Can help people. To feel more connected to one another and their area people, and fewer “isolated” by their mental health difficulties.

Working for NHS Foundation Trust, we delivered a program for seven adults aged 18-25 in two museums in Gloucester over 18 weeks. Each session lasted 90 minutes and started and resulted in the museums private education room.

Group members explored museum exhibits after which created some art using quite a lot of materials. At first, we suggested some tasks (like finding three things to represent their past, present and future) but because the weeks went by they quickly found things they connected with. At the top of every session there was time for verbal reflection as a gaggle.

Each artwork or artifact can mean something different to everyone who sees it.
Vladimir Rangel/Shutterstock

Talking to group members after the ultimate session, and observing the sessions, we discovered how effective using museum objects might be, particularly for self-exploration. Susie (all names have been modified to guard identities) saw her desire to “erase the past and start over” reflected within the Victorian writing slate, and a modern-day method for creating images after which erasing them. Created the device. He also drew inspiration from the cross-section model within the Earth, drawing himself as an individual with three layers and on it “what I show others”, “what those close to me see”, and “what I do”. See” label. Feel about yourself in a way that hardly anyone knows.”

Another one who attended the session, Eli, was inspired by a restored Roman vessel. She created a collage that expressed her feeling that she was “putting pieces together in my life”. Meanwhile, Caroline created a timeline of her life (including some very painful experiences), saying “I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't seen the timeline in the exhibition, but it felt so important to do it. — like putting things in place before moving on.”

Although not all group members created artwork throughout the session, they still found therapeutic value of their encounters with the objects within the museum. For example, Tasha was not all the time in a position to create art within the group but still reported that “using objects for self-reflection was useful”.

Several members of the group said that the exhibitions encouraged playfulness in addition to influenced their creative work, and meant that the group loosened up. Some said they felt less appreciated for his or her mental health difficulties since the group was not held on NHS premises. Our museum sessions also encouraged independence and helped participants feel valued and connected to the world outside of mental health services.

As one participant said:

You feel such as you're an actual person working on your personal goals and not only treating a patient… You won’t have thought that pulling objects out of museum boxes and searching at artifacts would make you’ll help to make or feel higher. Progress in recovery, but you will probably be surprised.

Building on this work, art psychotherapists from the ²gether Trust have since delivered two more museum-based therapy groups for adults of all ages, and we’ve got written about this. Our experiences How we functioned in these settings. We are keen to “flex” our practice outside of the standard treatment spaces, and encourage fellow art psychotherapists to explore how this wealthy therapeutic medium may help others. Is.