Processing Emotions and Memorising Coursework through Memory Drawing

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Unnur Ottarsdottir


Memory of drawings and words were compared for 134 subjects in a quantitative research. Nine weeks after the initial encoding the median amount of recalled drawings was five times higher, than for written words. There was no difference between memorised drawings and words when recalling took place right after encoding. Qualitative case studies were also conducted which demonstrated the way in which memory drawing can facilitate coursework learning. The memory drawing and the therapeutic process indicated that sensitive emotional material can be brought up and processed through such drawings. Art therapy theories and methods were found to be important in terms of memory drawing in order to explore, understand and explain the function of memory drawing for processing emotions and facilitating memory of coursework. An art therapy framework was also found to be important for considering the ethics and drawing boundaries for the memory drawing method in order to create safe spaces for students and clients who engage in creating memory drawings within therapy or education.

Keywords: Memory, drawing, art educational therapy (AET), trauma, coursework learning.

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