Open Studio Group

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Dr. Robin Tipple
Christopher Brown


Robin volunteered to run the open studio group because, in part, he felt that in open groups it could easier for members and the conductor to manage anxiety, the situation was less anxiety provoking. He remembered open groups that he had been a part of, in learning disability settings, where the numbers ranged from 15 to 20 clients, depending on the demand that day. There were usually two therapists and a helper. Here clients came and used the space and materials as they felt inclined to do. There was not a lot of pressure to interact with others, other members of the group or the therapists. Many of the clients returned to the same part of the room each day, personalising the space in some way. Anxiety levels were lower in this environment and a culture of respect was inculcated over time, respect in relation to personal space and the work that others produced. Significant exchanges did take place in this group but they were not generated through any overt structures, rather they represented spontaneous communications, sharing of work, thought, emotions, and wishes. Robin wanted something like this in the conference, but without the territorial element, a space where individuals could access a range of art materials and work quietly, or sit quietly as they wished. Interaction, sharing and exchanges with others would be, of course, permitted but there would be no obligation in this respect.

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