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Healing the Inner Child Through Portrait Therapy: Illness, Identity and Childhood Trauma

15 February 2017

New article by Susan M. D. Carr and Susan Hancock published in the International Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape and made free access for the next 6 months…

Image: Saying Goodbye to the Sea (A1)

This is a co-written case study by art therapist Susan Carr and patient-researcher (PR) Susan Hancock, one of seven people who participated in Carr’s PhD research project. 

Susan Hancock is a former university lecturer who was diagnosed with incurable cancer shortly after retirement; her publications include The Child that Haunts Us: Symbols and Images in Fairytale and Miniature Literature (2008, published by Routledge). In her PhD project, Carr researched portrait therapy as a collaborative art therapy intervention for people living with Life-Threatening and Chronic Illnesses (LT&CIs) who experience illness as a disruption to their sense of self-identity. 

Portrait therapy reverses the ‘terms of engagement’ within art therapy, using the art therapist’s ‘third hand’ to create portraits for patients, yet co-designed by patients. The focus of this article is an exploration of the role portrait therapy plays in helping people living with LT&CIs to explore and heal childhood trauma. 

The article examines the therapeutic implications of transforming traumatic memories and argues that through a process of mirroring and attunement, portrait therapy enables people to develop an increase in their creative capacity to adapt to the way illness impacts upon their inner child and to gain an increased sense of self-identity coherence.

To read the full article please click here

All BAAT members can access all International Journal of Art Therapy articles for free through the BAAT website members’ area here

Everyone is welcome to join BAAT as an associate member if they are not an art therapist here