Background: The bodymind model of Art Therapy delineates the mechanisms through which artmaking, in a therapeutic setting, with the support of an art therapist, may have salutary effects. The model is designed to serve as a guide to design empirical studies of the mechanisms of art therapy. Context: In this paper, we describe how the bodymind model can be implemented to observe clinical work done in art therapy with individuals in problem substance use (PSU) treatment. Approach: Using one case example we describe the bodymind model’s mechanisms and how they may manifest in PSU treatment. Outcomes: We observed ways in which artmaking may serve multiple purposes at different time points in treatment, such as, getting in touch with bodily pain that was rooted in difficult childhood experiences, thus, paving the way for the transformation of implicit somatic information to explicit emotional content. Later in treatment, artmaking was observed to possibly assist our client to engage in reflective practices, perspective taking and cognitive decision making. Conclusions: There are multiple potential mechanisms through which art therapy may have a salutary role. Implications for research: This case example can help researchers and clinicians engage with the bodymind model in ways that will deepen their clinical understanding and design future studies that will expand the body of research of art therapy practices. Plain-language summary: Art Therapy is a health profession that uses artmaking in the framework of a supportive relationship with a qualified art therapist to help individuals and groups improve their well-being and mental health. There is research that demonstrates the benefit of participating in art therapy to improve wellbeing, however, how this occurs continues to be unclear. The bodymind model of Art therapy was created to describe some of the ways through which art therapy may benefit participants. The model is designed to help art therapists design studies that will examine which parts of art therapy benefit participants. In this paper, through one case example we describe the different mechanisms of the bodymind model as seen in problem substance use treatment. We describe how artmaking possibly served multiple purposes at different times in treatment. Artmaking possibly enabled the client to get in touch with bodily pain that was rooted in difficult and painful emotional childhood experiences, thus, possibly paving the way for emotions that were stored in the body to be transferred to the art and then to words. The experience of touching and moving the art materials possibly helped change these bodily experiences into emotional and cognitive ones. Later in treatment, artmaking potentially helped the client reflect on her past and examine it from a distance and engage in decision making. The sense of accomplishment that accompanied artmaking possibly enabled this client to feel a sense hope in their ability to become and remain sober. We hope that providing this case example will help researchers and clinicians engage with the bodymind model in ways that will promote their clinical work and expand the body of research of art therapy practices.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Association of Art Therapists.
- Art Therapy
- Problem substance use treatment
- bodymind model
- case description
- mechanistic research
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology