Cutting and pasting in adults’ descriptions of experiences of secrets in childhood

Tal Sela, Michal Bat-Or

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In light of recent research and a growing understanding of the destructive repercussions of secrecy and concealment, unique interventions are required. Aims: This article, part of an art-based qualitative-phenomenological study, explores the subjective experiences of adults who grew up under secrecy. Methods: The research utilised art therapy, readymade art, the creation of stories and interviews. These allowed access to primal, non-verbal and unconscious aspects of the experience and to implicit and explicit memories and their impact. Results: The study revealed themes of connection, disconnection and integration, reflecting recurring aspects of participants’ artworks, and prominent narratives in their stories and interviews. The intermodal transfer between art forms valuable while enriching and expanding the content of the art-based session. Conclusions: Participants’ experiences revealed an inability to connect between information kept secret during childhood and information that was not. They experienced ambiguity and a sense of something missing in relation to information that was sensed but could not be conceived. Implications for practice: This article offers clinical implications relating to art-based psychotherapeutic work with clients who grew up under secrecy. The process uses metaphors emerged from visual and narrative expressions. A possible application is related to the intermodal transfer between art forms enriching core themes in a way that enables clinical work using metaphors produced by the participants. A possible implication is the clinical use of arts-based intervention inviting clients to create a variety of metaphors from the ready-made artwork and from their stories, which in turn expand the outlook upon the experience, enabling access to its implicit components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Secrets in the family
  • arts therapy
  • connection
  • disconnection
  • integration
  • inter-modal
  • metaphor
  • ready-made

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Psychology


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