The Interpretation of Children's Artwork in a Paediatric Disability Setting

Tipple, Robin A.. 2003. The Interpretation of Children's Artwork in a Paediatric Disability Setting. International Journal of Art Therapy, 8(2), pp. 48-59. ISSN 17454840 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article describes art therapy assessment in a paediatric disability setting. In this setting where the art therapist contributes to a multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment, neurology, the cognitive sciences and medical discourses shape diagnostic terms and an individual childs capacities and behaviours are judged against agreed norms. The psychodynamic discourses that often provide a foundation for practices in art therapy can seem redundant in this situation, where H is easy for the art therapist to lose interest in the art product. In an endeavour to acknowledge and explore the visual interest that the referred childrens art exhibits, the art therapist has begun a research project. This research project attempts to construct, what might loosely be called, a case study method, which aims to explain individual childrens use of art materials. This method explores processes and context without using the usual psychodynamic approach or using the approach developed by cognitive psychology. It is motivated by a feeling that the psychodynamic and the cognitive discourses are both inadequate to explain the artwork and the motivations of the child in this particular assessment situation. A brief consideration of discourses, the psychodynamic, the cognitive and the neurological, in their relation to the making of artwork, and in the production of subjects, is provided. A case presentation is given to show how the method has developed and how this has lead to a larger question, or group of questions. How do we conceptualise the relationship between the subject (client/patient/child) and the artwork that she or he produces and how does such theory influence our interpretations and our practices?

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Social, Therapeutic & Community Engagement (STaCS)



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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

11 Jul 2017 10:05

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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