Course Title: The Arts-based Therapeutic Relationship

Part A: Course Overview

Course ID: 038056

Course Title: The Arts-based Therapeutic Relationship

Credit Points: 24

Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


360H Education


Sem 1 2006,
Sem 2 2006,
Sem 1 2007

Course Coordinator: Ms Gerry Katz

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 4650

Course Coordinator Email:

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

PERF2037 Art as Experience
PERF2035 Creative Arts Therapy Modality 1

Course Description

This course is designed to provide the student with opportunities to examine and explore some of the concepts, philosophical principles, and practices of therapeutic relationships and therapeutic processes. Within a framework of creative arts therapy, the relationship of both client and therapist to art forms (as therapeutic), and the characteristics of non-discursive communication are experientially explored.
The course also examines the nature of personal narratives and stories that clients bring to the therapy setting and which therapy groups may evoke. Learning modules are framed within a question, or set of questions, designed as enquiry tools.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Emphasis is placed on considerations of ideas about the interpersonal relationship between therapist and client, about ‘self’ and ‘self-as-therapist’, as well as on the nature of groups, group process and group dynamics. The broad question, “What constitutes a therapeutic relationship?” poses a framework within which the student will be able to:

(a) Discuss, critically, some of the philosophical concepts and principles of therapeutic
relationships, including philosophical, theoretical and experiential perspectives;
(b) Critically examine the role and function of therapist and client or client groups as
co-creators of an arts therapeutic relationship;
(c) Critically examine the nature of groups as socially constructed, and explore philosophical
and theoretical assumptions underpinning the dynamic nature of groups;
(d) Develop a working knowledge of group dynamics and processes within an arts therapy context;
(e) Demonstrate an understanding of group work in the context of Creative Arts Therapy;
(f) Examine the narrative aspects of therapeutic groups, and their importance to individual wellbeing;
(g) Describe the significance of creative process and therapeutic space;
(h) Reflect on self-as-helper, and on one’s personal styles of relating to others;
(i) Demonstrate a willingness to participate in the exploration of self in the development of
an understanding of therapeutic relationships, in both groups and 1:1 situations;

Overview of Learning Activities

Experiential workshops, interactive discussion and occasional mini-lectures;
Students will have opportunities to participate in small group, collaborative learning discussions and presentations, and to both observe and participate in interactive feedback sessions. Individual and group process dynamics will be examined from an experiential perspective, and students will be encouraged to integrate philosophical and theoretical concepts through small and large group discussions. Creative Arts activities will be used to both enhance the learning experiences and to maintain a focus on the therapeutic use of the arts. Field Work research will extend these ideas beyond the classroom/studio.

The Course focuses on understanding the therapeutic (or ‘helping’) relationship, with an emphasis on understanding self-as-therapist using the creative arts with individuals and groups.

The Study program consists of four main areas of enquiry, as follows:.
1. Understanding concepts and embodiment of ‘self’, and ‘self-in-relationship’
2. Understanding group dynamics and process
3. Understanding therapeutic process and relationship
4. Understanding the implications of creative process in a therapeutic relationship

1. How may the self and self-in-relationship be understood in a therapeutic context?
• The self as person/self-as-artist
• The self as socially constructed – family and social groups
• The self as narrative – in words, images, sounds, movements
• The self in relationship/intrapersonal awareness

2. What are the elements that constitute a therapeutic group?
• The nature of groups; group dynamics and group process
• Interpersonal nature of relationships in groups
• Communication in groups; verbal, non-verbal, expressive (through creative mediums)
• Hopes, fears and dilemmas of group experiences

3. How may creative process hold and contain a therapeutic relationship ?
• Understanding the arts as transformative and therapeutic;
• Interactive and parallel processes; examining difference
• Containment/holding aspects of arts mediums.
4. What is the impact of difference in understanding therapeutic processes and relationships?
• A creative/expressive perspective (Warren/ Thomas/Kramer)
• An existential-phenomenological perspective (Spinelli/Yalom)
• A client-centred perspective (Rogers)
• A feminist perspective
• The ‘storying’ of human experience (Coles)

Note: In keeping with the philosophy of collaborative and self-directed learning within the Creative Arts Therapy program, students are responsible for completing all directed/required readings prior to each class/workshop.
Each student will be asked to evaluate the course according to preset criteria. The evaluation form allows for personal comments and is submitted anonymously.

Overview of Learning Resources

Warren, Bernie (Ed) 1984. Using the Creative Arts in Therapy. London. Routledge
Thomson, Martina (1997) On Art and Therapy: An Exploration London. Free Association Books
Yalom, I.D. (1988) The Yalom Reader New York. Basic Books.
Selected Articles and Chapters. (Provided as Course Readings)

REFERENCES – Suggested Texts
Coles, Robert (1980) The Call of Stories
Kramer, Edith. (2000) Art as Therapy: Collected Papers. London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Gallas, Karen. (1994) The Languages of Learning; How Children tlak, Write, Dance, Draw, and
Sing their Understanding of the World. London. Teachers College Press.
Gersie, Alida. (1997) Reflections on Therapeutic Storymaking: The Use of Stories in Groups. London. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Rogers, Carl. (1965) Client-Centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory.
Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company.
Skaife, Sally & Huet, Val. (1998) Art Psychotherapy Groups: Between pictures and words.
London. Routledge.
Spinelli, Ernesto. (1996) Demystifying Therapy. London. Constable
(1998) Tales of Un-Knowing. London. Duckworth
(2001) the mirror and the hammer; challenges to therapeutic orthodoxy
London. Continuum.
Waller, Diane. (1993) Group Interactive Art Therapy. London. Routledge
Winnicott, D.W. (1994) Playing and Reality. London. Rouledge
(1986) Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst.
London. Penguin Books
Yalom, I.D. (1983) Inpatient Group Psychotherapy. New York. Basic Books.
(1990) Love’s Executioner London. Penguin Books
(2002) The Gift of Therapy New York. Perennial/Harper Collins

[OHTH2033 The Therapeutic Relationship-Course Outline 2005]

Overview of Assessment

The assessment for the course will take the form of a submitted portfolio, and will contain materials as follows:
a) Individual written essay (2000-2500 words.) (45%)
b) Presentations (Small-group) and written Report: (1000words.) (45%)
c) Self-assessment using the learning log (10%)
Due dates for the portfolio items to be negotiated with the course facilitators.