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Therapeutic factors in expressive art therapy for persons with eating disorders

Group therapy has been widely discussed in terms of factors that work. Most of the previous work in this field is related to verbal psychotherapy, but it should not be assumed that non-verbal, activity-based groups, as well as combined group forms, have the same operating mechanisms as verbal psychotherapy groups. Thus, there is a need for more knowledge concerning the therapeutic mechanisms that other types of groups rely on. This article describes and discusses the expressive art therapy group at an eating disorders unit in Norway. Particular emphasis is placed on linking specific elements of a case example to a framework for describing therapeutic factors in groups. By: Inger Anne Sporild and Tore Bonsaksen, 2014.


Konklusjon: We suggest that therapists consider using expressive art groups as an element of treatment for persons with longstanding eating disorder. Expressive art groups may assist people in expressing themselves in another, and often more emotional, language than the verbal language used in daily encounters. Themes hidden and obscured by verbal language may be revealed in a picture. In this sense, a picture may be ‘worth a thousand words’. Therapists considering using expressive art groups should consider the group members’ capacity to share and contain emotions and their capacity to form alliances with other group members and with the therapist. Emotion-focused group therapies rely on the group’s ability to provide a climate characterized by warmth, solidarity, and a compassionate, genuine interest in all of its members. Les mer her