You’re in a session with a client and art media. The client uses the art media at your invitation. When the client finishes, you initiate a discussion about the resulting art product and the feelings associated with it. Your client has little to say. What to do now? Did you approach your inquiry from the wrong angle? Is there something amiss with your client? Did you/your client just waste precious session time with that art experience?
The list of questions at this point could be endless. And while examining the details of any session is important for learning purposes, it’s also important to become comfortable with discomfort and to know that the unknown is always present in therapy. As this relates to the session in which a client cannot/will not explore her or his art product at the verbal level, the therapeutic relationship stands to gain if you accept the art product and the client’s response to it as facts that do not require further explanation. Less is more; acknowledging the validity of your client’s visual and verbal contributions “as-is” without pressing and prying for more information suggests that you respect your client and aren’t judging her or him.
The next time your client engages in artmaking and then is short on words, remember that even the great masters created works titled “Untitled”. These are housed in art galleries and museums around the world despite the artists’ limited statements about them. When you’re in a session with a client and art media, you are always in the presence of a master.
With appreciation for the important work you do,
Megan October 2012
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