Working with a schizoaffective disordered client - The importance of an Art Therapist's mentalizing process to support the client's a sense of self
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CHIANG, C. (2014) Working with a schizoaffective disordered client - The importance of an Art Therapist's mentalizing process to support the client's a sense of self, no. 97.
This study was conducted as individual art therapy case over 29 sessions with an elderly person who has schizoaffective disorder, and took place at an NHS hospital. In this hospital, the art therapy service is offered to elderly people who suffer from psychotic, emotional and behavioural difficulties. According to Lacan (1955), psychosis is an undifferentiated state, and the person most of the time is trapped in their unconscious and 'lack-in-being'; and this is a state of having lost the sense of self. A general aim of the clinical art therapy treatment for a psychosis client is to support the consciousness process, through art-making, to increase a sense of self and psychological well-being. The main investigation of this paper is how to support psychotic clients to find a way to integrate or retrieve their self. There is much literature which explains that the art therapy interventions are based on a therapeutic relationship. However, if an art therapist must mirror and also attune to the client's actions to build up a secure therapeutic relationship; this probably means that the therapist is required to mentalize both his/her self and the other (the client). In order to understand this background, the second part of this study is a literature review which includes the research of psychotherapy concerning mentalization. Therefore, the case study has been addressed by using qualitative methodology, through the lens of hermeneutic phenomenology. In addition, the data collecting, analysing and presenting will use art-based methods, and the evidence of this data has been proved through the literature. The findings and discussions of this study are presented in the third part of the case study. The importance of this finding is that useful intervention when working with psychotic clients, is done not only by the building of a secure relationship, but also through the therapists' mentalizing process. This process can support the therapist's reflection to be safer, and it can help the client's sense of the self, in a secure environment.