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Art Therapy with Offenders

NCJ Number
M Liebmann
Date Published
315 pages
This book contains 11 articles by individuals who provide art therapy in adult prisons, young offender institutions, secure psychiatric units, and probation centers.
Their experiences show how art therapy can contribute to the understanding of offenders and to their own understanding of themselves. There has been a long tradition of art activities in prisons, mainly through education classes, but also through individual activity by inmates in their cells. The main difference between arts activities and arts therapies is the difference in purpose. While most arts activities have as their main expressed aim an external product such as a mural or a concert, arts therapies tend to look more explicitly at the personal processes involved. Although there are many art therapy sessions in which participants are rightly proud of what they have produced, the finished product is secondary; the more important outcome is change on the part of the person who created the artwork. The benefits of using art therapy include: (1) art as a means of nonverbal communication; (2) pictures as a bridge between therapist and client; (3) art as a means of self-expression and self-exploration; (4) creating art can help people release and deal with feelings such as anger and aggression; and (5) art can be enjoyable and lead to the development of a sense of creativity. Illustrations, references, biographical details, index


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