Take a look at this article by Dr. Jeremy Spiegel that considers whether viewing artwork in a gallery setting may lay the groundwork towards self-understanding.
“Gosh Liz, what do you really think about this?”
“You know, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately talking about art therapy in the context of going to a museum and viewing artwork, but usually for the Alzheimer’s/dementia population. I’m not familiar with research done on the effectiveness of treating a mental illness through the viewing of art. If you know of any, Cathy, I’d love to read it!
In any case, when I read Dr. Spiegel’s post, I couldn’t help but think how collage images are used in art therapy sessions. The images are created by someone other than the person choosing to use them in a collage; the images are chosen because they resonate in some way with the client and are a source of exploration throughout the therapeutic session. In this way, I can see how going to a gallery and focusing on pieces of artwork that stand out to the client could open up fruitful discussion and self-examination.
The method used to explore the images and the ego strength of the client would be key. For example, I wouldn’t bring a client who has a tendency to dissociate or have intense and difficult to contain emotional reactions to a public environment to view triggering images. I also wouldn’t want to have a discussion about a particular piece in the middle of the gallery, for other people to hear. Perhaps the art viewing would work best by having a client write down his or her impressions and experiences to later be explored in a private therapy session. I would also want to bring a picture of the artwork to the therapy session to help bring the client back to the original viewing experience.”
What are your thoughts?