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Expressive Art Therapy The Rosebush Technique

The purpose of this paper is to research Expressive Art therapy and to present one structured art activity, the Rosebush fantasy, which is an effective strategy proven in school counseling. Allowing children to draw is giving them the ability to use another language to share feelings, ideas, perceptions, fantasies, and observations of how they view themselves, others and the environment in an effective, non-threatening way. The rosebush fantasy technique is used as an expressive art therapy method to access the emotional world of children in a non-verbal way (Ray et al., 2004, p.277).

Clients with various problems can be reached through expressive art therapy as a tool for awakening dormant creativity which can be used through artistic self-expression. It restores the creative/inspiration that clients store deep within by expressing through art. Psychotherapy can assist clients verbalizing their unspoken and unresolved conflicts whereas expressive art therapy will assist the clients to express themselves in a creative understanding without relying on verbal means. Clients of all ages can use expressive art therapy to gain a better understanding of their unconscious through interpretation in their artwork that may show developmental phases and of psychic structure. This therapy is mean for accessing unseen resources and may provide clients a tool for expressing their internal conflicts that they can use throughout their lifespan art therapy is an engaging and effective way for many clients, children and adults to create art that is meaningful and have an emotional effect. It is a way for clients to become more aware of their self perception. Children may be more receptive to expressive art therapy than adult clients who may prefer the verbal approach, but clients of all ages can benefit from art therapy. These therapies also help the study of the ego and the relationship between graphic form and character development (Synder, 1997, p. 74).

According to Corey (2009), Carl Roger’s theory of creativity is using expressive art to enhance personal growth for individuals and groups. Carl Rogers approach known as expressive art therapy broadens the person-centered approach to spontaneous creative expression that symbolizes deep, inaccessible feelings and emotional states. Drawing, moving, music, painting, sculpting, writing and improvisation are all various artistic forms used in expressive art therapy. This approach is to integrate the mind, body and spirit and are based on the humanistic principles but given fuller form to Carl Roger’s notion of creativity (p.181). By using creative approaches to counseling students respond positively. Traditional talk therapy is not as effective as art therapy. Art allows the child to connect with the counselor through images rather than words. Counselors developed an alternate non-verbal technique for children who do not possess the developmental ability to integrate feeling, thoughts, and experiences (Ray et al., 2004, p. 277).

According to Ray et al. (2004), J. Stevens saw that adults tend to alienate unpleasant experiences that were causing distress to themselves. Rosebush Identification Fantasy was created so that adults could reconnect with those unpleasant aspects of their experiences. He reported that the participant’s responses to the rosebush exercise were a result of their own projection of their own experiences. Participants imagined themselves as a rosebush and identified their experiences onto the rosebush. V. Oaklander, a Gestalt child therapist, recognized that both client and therapist can have fun through fantasy and the process of expression of feelings. She adapted the rosebush Identification fantasy for the use of children. The technique can be used to reveal the child’s subjective phenomenological world by using this art activity. This technique allows the child to communicate and share themselves with the counselor in a non-traditional format (Ray et al., 2004, p. 277).

The rosebush fantasy drawing begins with a short relaxation exercise that focuses on muscle relaxation and concentration on breathing. Playing soothing music in the background can be helpful to relax children and allows them to clean their minds of intervening thoughts. The therapist will then ask specific question that will define the self as the rosebush such as, “What kind of rosebush are you?” “Are you small or big?” “Do you have flowers?” “Who is taking care of you?” “Do you have thorns?” When the counselor feels that the child has had enough time to process those questions they ask the child to open their eyes and draw themselves as the rosebush. The counselor allows enough time to complete the drawing. The meaning of this exercise is how the child interprets and explains the rosebush. The counselor may ask the child to describe the rosebush. The counselor may create the creativity by having the child tell a story of the rosebush and what kind of environment the rosebush is in. If the counselor attempt to connect the child’s drawing to their real-life situation the child may become threatened. The counselor may also ask, “Is there anything in this drawing that reminds you of your own life?” (Ray et al., 2004, p. 277).

Drawings can quickly bring to surface issues relevant to counseling that can improve the counselor’s ability to mediate effectively with the client. Direct questions can be threatening when asking children their actual situation. By using their descriptions of their rosebush fantasy, drawing becomes less threatening. By allowing the child to draw a fantasy the child has emotional distance from the reality of life. The child is able to express details verbally about the rosebush that correlates with their view of self in a safe way. The rosebush technique can be presented in an individual or group session. In an individual session the therapist can have a better understanding of the client’s world. To help understand perspectives of others and present themselves to others, this technique is beneficial for a group format (Ray et al., 2004, p. 277).

The rosebush technique allows clients to use another language to express their feelings, thoughts, emotions and perceptions of how they view the world. Art drawing is a vehicle to help clients channel their emotions in a non-verbal way and allows the client to feel safe with the counselor. Expressive art therapy is an effective way of counseling that does not involve in traditional verbal communication between counselor and client. It allows the client to feel safe in a non-threatening way to express ones hidden feelings through art.


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