Group Art Therapy, Aesthetic Experiences of Difference and Belonging
This paper comes from a qualitative doctoral study which explored the impact of group art therapy on people affected by Parkinson’s. It specifically addresses the research question: How might participating in art therapy groups support wellbeing and better functioning for people affected by Parkinson’s? Art therapy is not a widely applied therapeutic intervention for this client population. The study was undertaken at the Catalan Parkinson’s Association which has a long-standing art therapy service integrated into the therapeutic rehabilitation programme. The language-based data gathered for analysis was from four focus group encounters with people affected by Parkinson’s (who had directly experienced group art therapy), family members and professionals from the multidisciplinary team working alongside the art therapist. A thematic network analysis (Attride-Stirling, 2001) was undertaken producing six global themes in response to the research question: self-construction; material action; an aesthetic group movement; new perspectives; artwork as legacy; physical transformation as a relational aesthetic experience. I first describe how the research participants joined the study, the rationale for the focus groups and their composition; followed by a detailed exploration of the six themes, relating them to wider literature and a discussion of their implications for practice.
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