Interpreting Bodily Expression

Interpreting Bodily Expression- A Clinical Project in relation to Art Therapy with a Traumatised Young Adolescent
Tang Ying-Hsien
This case study has been written by Tang Ying-Hsien


This study has been conducted in a secure unit for locking up young adolescents whose behaviour presents risk to themselves or others. A fourteen-years-old boy is introduced in the case study, who had been accommodated in a unit in which the art therapy was time- limited, and provided during his placement. The qualitative approach of hermeneutic phenomenology is employed throughout. In order to gain a profound understanding of the work in art therapy, each session is an important experience, to examine as a part and as a whole in the interpretive process. Within the dynamic process, I applied the method of participant observation, which allowed me to systematically review the therapy work. Meanwhile, thematic analysis is employed to neutrally produce the themes, which are the symbolic mess, visible mess, to tie and being tied; also the impact of disruption in the setting for both client and therapist. Through the intersubjective experiences, I created a reflection of a poem as an integration to respond not only to my client, but also to the entire therapy work.

In this case study, art materials serve as a helpful means to create a connection between himself and others, as well as to process his emotional experiences in his past and present. The findings suggest that it is beneficial for traumatised children to engage in an art-making process, in order to safely reveal their trauma through sensual and perceptive language. It also illustrates the importance of domestic violence, as it is adversely related to mental development for traumatised children.

Additionally, different cultures and identities are explored with respect to meeting the client’s need. Through the findings, I hope the research of my practice will be of interest to other cross-cultural art therapists who work in a secure unit or similar settings; in turn, more related literature in this area will emerge.

2014-11-21  ( posted by Uniyam )