Speaking with Listening: Art Therapy and Poetic Practice

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Beverly A'Court


Poems written in response to art therapy sessions may be less of interest for their artistic value than for their contribution to reflection on art therapy practice. Spontaneous poetry is often an intensely honest and inclusive way of recording a relationship or process & provides a vivid record of what is noticed. It may also indicate transpersonal, peripheral and ”˜field’ effects during sessions, which may have been contributing to the therapy in ways which need acknowledgement and understanding. Poems may work as mini-oracles, bringing subliminal perceptions and pre-cognitions to the surface, serving as a helpful contribution to self-supervision and the therapeutic work. Similar mind states are involved in art therapy and poetry; primarily an awake, compassionate ”˜presence’ and a willingness to connect with, and witness, ”˜otherness’ and our shared world. Such core therapeutic skills can always be enhanced and refined.

The author proposes that poetry becomes more openly recognised as a medium for and respected form of, reflection on art therapy practice in our professional literature. This may further extend what is accepted as ”˜professional’ discourse to include more ”˜thick’ descriptions of our work and enable it to be more artistically communicated. It may then become less charged to ask clients/patients about publication, just as it has become easier for medical and social work staff to ask patients for permission to publicise their intimate verbal accounts of medical experiences to help other patients and practitioners.

The article includes quotations from several writers and extracts from the authors ”˜poem-notes’ and poems.

Key Words: Poetry, art therapy, skills, transpersonal, Buddhism

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