Slayton (2012) Building Community as Social Action: An Art Therapy Group with Adolescent Males

literature type:

journal article


Sarah C. Slayton. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2012; Vol. 39, Issue #3: pp 179– 185.


One way to facilitate social change as an art therapist is within the context of group art therapy, utilizing the group as a social microcosm for the world at large. The overarching goal is to engage the group in meaningful and prosocial experience that mirrors community experiences many clients have lacked. For a group of adolescent males who had suffered the effects of some of our worst social problems—rampant community and domestic violence, racial and ethnic conflict, child abuse and neglect, parental substance abuse and criminality, poverty, and untreated mental illness in families—this task is complex. The impact of disrupted attachment and complex trauma is discussed, and implications are presented for connecting with traumatized youth through witnessing their creative work. The therapeutic relationship and the art media used are discussed in relation to multicultural issues, the specific psycho social problems experienced by the individual group members, and the capacity of this group to engage in the construction and ultimate articulation of its own community in a visual manner. The product of this group art therapy experience is exhibited in a mixed construction miniature city that was built over a period of 9 weeks.


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