Art therapy Places, flows, forces, matter and becoming

Dr. Patricia Fenner


This paper explores perspectives on the setting or room where art therapy takes place as an intense sensory, affective and meaning-filled site or placeworld wherein social, material, discursive, and psychological forces mingle. Using Dovey’s (2010 appropriation of the assemblage of Deleuze and Guattari (1987), the art therapy room is conceptualised as a dynamic ‘state of affairs’, wherein multiple forces including the political, ephemeral, discursive, material, interpersonal or psychodynamic are at play. Here, matter has agency with which we negotiate, collude and engage, albeit often semi- consciously and tacitly. Located initially in a phenomenological reading of the lived experience of the setting of art therapy for both art therapists and their clients, this proposition of the agential dimension of matter evolves and develops ideas from eco-psychology, new materialism and post-human discourses.

Keyword: art room, studio, material conditions, place, client experience, therapist experience 

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