Ethnic Cultures' Experience Of Art Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

For example, the ethnic client who paints a huge red heart with an arrow piercing its center is communicating a universally understood message: I have been affected by love/passion/emotion.

Natalie Rogers, founder of the Person Centered Expressive Therapy Institute is a strong proponent of expressive art. In this form of art therapy, the ethnic client is encouraged to "express inner thoughts by creating outer forms."

When treating a client with art therapy, Ms. Rogers uses many techniques of expressive art: drawing, coloring, dancing, musical demonstrations, and the like.

Once these exercises are completed, the participants are encouraged to explore the nuances involved in the interaction: did communication occur? Was it a pleasant experience? Were boundaries an issue? Who led? Who followed?

Despite the fact that this work is not done solely with ethnically displaced clients, the premise remains the same; through expressive creativity, one's self may be realized, recognized, and embraced.

Any professional art therapist can see many advantages to this exercise when dealing with the ethnic and unattenuated client. The understood but often unrealized fact of communication is discovered in language and cultural barriers; body language, expression, and tonality all contribute to understanding.

Limitations and Delimitations

Overview of Procedures case study method will be used even though I felt an ethnographical approach was more appropriate at certain junctures. I chose to exercise the case study method because although I plan to study cultures, in which an ethnographical approach seems more logical, they can also be seen as the bounded system necessary to conduct a case study approach.

A qualitative approach must be taken in order to do justice to the data. Determining the quality of life, progress, and level of accomplishment in study cases is crucial to finding ever new and emerging ways of helping the ethnic client through the use of art therapy.


Art Therapy

Viewed as a cathartic and non-threatening way of venting repressed feelings, art therapy can help people gain confidence and bolster self-esteem. Art therapy has been shown to be highly beneficial for people battling with eating disorders, addictions and stress. It has also been known to help those coming to terms with bereavement, and those suffering from Alzheimer's and other terminal illnesses. Art therapy is a human service profession that uses art media, images, the creative process, and patient anxiety, aiding reality orientation, and increasing self-esteem.


The fundamental task of the psychotherapeutic relationship is to create an interpersonal environment in which we can discover, become and deal more creatively with who we are, so that we might engage more realistically and with deeper fulfillment in the world. The therapist is there to offer empathic involvement in our unfolding, without judgment or blame, but with curiosity, compassion and respect for our distinct being and unknown destiny.

Anticipated Procedures for Study Verification how will you judge the quality?


When initiating the ethnic client into various art therapy modalities, the House-tree-Person technique can be highly effective.

In this method, the client is asked to draw a house, a person, and a tree on plain white paper. The person in the drawing provides the therapist with information on how the ethnic client views themselves in a world perspecitive. According to Fleshman and Fryrear (1988), the figure can reliably be measured as a reflection of the client.

Care must be taken to not overreach with this analysis,...
...As with all tools, this is one of many available to the art therapist with more emerging every day.

Generally, the affect of the person can reflect the inner attitudes of fear, insecurity, grandiose attitudes, and the like. Profiles may indicate an uneasiness and unwillingness to face the challenges in a direct manner. Lightly drawn lines may be an indicator of 'selflessness' or 'weightlessness' and may justify exploring a diagnosis of depression.

If the tree bends toward the ground, a competent therapist might infer that the ethnic client is carrying a great emotional weight. If the house is far from the person or tree, the client may be expressing isolation or distance from their surroundings.

Plan for Data Analysis

Outline for the Study's Overall Structure


Historical Timeline

First Approach

Optimal Client-type

Selecting the Interviewees



Success Stories



Qualitative Analysis

Case Studies



Clinical Innovation

Future Art Therapy Goals


Closing Summary

Art therapy is an emergent form of psychotherapeutic tool which is highly beneficial to the ethnic client. Culture differences can be safely explored, trust issues can be identified and restored, learning can occur, and adaptation can take a natural, progressive form.

For the ethnic child, woman, or man, art therapy is a solace in a new world; an ability to freely express the soul inside us all.


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Sources Used in Documents:


Art Therapy, a Guide for Mental Health Professionals. New York: Brunner/Mazel,


Burt, H. (1993). Issues in art therapy with the culturally displaced American Indian youth. Arts in Psychotherapy. 20: 143-151.

Cohen, B., Barnes, M., & Rankin, a. (1995). Managing Traumatic Stress Through Art. Maryland: Sidran Press.

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