Using art therapy to tackle issues with body image – An interview with Margaret Hunter

What have you found so effective about art therapy as an approach with clients who have issues with body image?

The very act of creating involves use of the body, and therefore promotes an appreciation of the body. Women begin the art therapy process by practicing awareness of breath moving in and out of the body; they relax, and become inspired. Images originating within the mind are brought forward, and expressed with the help of the body. Participants begin to view themselves as artists. As they celebrate diversity of ideas, materials, and forms, they also develop an appreciation for the diversity and uniqueness of the body-vehicle that moves them through the life journey.

Which of the exercises in the book has produced the most surprising results?

Each exercise in the book has produced some surprising results. We don’t normally see ourselves as boats, or shoes, or purses, or vases of flowers (to name a few); however, I found that women are able to explore themselves profoundly in the development of these familiar objects. I did not anticipate the extent, or benefit of nostalgia that takes place during the purse workshop. Women explore the impact that other women have had on their lives as they engage in a multi-sensory recall of the purses those women carried on their life journeys. I am often surprised at the sense of connection and comfort expressed by women during the group art process: Waters of Life. Participants learn they have much in common with other women, and can give and receive support while exploring very personal aspects of self.

What are some common obstacles that practitioners face with clients who are new to group work? How can this book help overcome them?

As women begin this journey, it is not uncommon for them to feel some anxiety, or fear of the unknown that lies ahead. When women work with other women in a group setting, they build a sense of trust in the facilitator (guide) and their fellow travelers. The guide meets with each participant ahead of time to explore the traveler’s preparedness to venture out onto the waters and roadways ahead. Participants respond to: guide confidence and experience; structure of the art processes, and freedom to express in a confidential, validating environment. The exercises in this book introduce and reinforce techniques to help manage emotions experienced in the process.

How should your book be used?

Reflections of Body Image in Art Therapy is an expressive art workbook and educational resource for women of all ages and stages of personal development This book contains art exercises that may be used by women who are looking for creative ways to explore themselves beyond the limitations of cultural definition. The art processes are fun, inexpensive and may be adapted for girls and women of all ages and backgrounds. The experientials may be used in group settings with a guide who travels alongside to offer support and assistance. The processes are also beneficial to individual travelers looking for new experiences on the journey of self-discovery; women may work on their own, at a pace that feels right for them. The art processes may be used in clinical, educational and recreational settings.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

View images from Margaret’s book on Pinterest

Books related to this blog post

Reflections of Body Image in Art Therapy

Reflections of Body Image in Art Therapy

Exploring Self through Metaphor and Multi-Media

Margaret R. Hunter


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