Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Examining Permas E And R Through The Lens Of Positive Art Therapy Demonstrating How Art Therapy Promotes Engagement Reveals Strengths And Builds Relationships  (#72)

Megan Booth 1 , Gioia Chilton 1 , Rebecca Wilkinson 1 , Janet McLeod 1
  1. Megan Booth Counselling, West Launceston, TAS, Australia

Through the lens of Positive Art Therapy, this presentation will examine the significance of the “E” for Engagement and “R” for Relationships, which are central to both Seligman’s (2012) PERMA model of flourishing and the therapeutic process. Artistic creation naturally enables the discovery of, and embodied engagement with, one’s own strengths, i.e. flow. Making art in the therapeutic dyad and in groups enables communal flow and reveals the stories and strengths of others in a visual narrative that is immediately accessible. This promotes empathy and facilitates the therapeutic relationship. It jumpstarts connections and deepens vulnerable sharing allowing participants to build relationships. In traditional therapeutic models the relationship between client and therapist is known to be essential. Yalom (1989) stated “It’s the relationship that heals, the relationship that heals, the relationship that heals”. One of the Founding Fathers’ of Positive Psychology, Chris Peterson (2012) would attribute this to the fact that “other people matter”. Whilst talk therapy is generally shaped around reflection on one’s relationship to self and the therapist, in Art Therapy, the reflexive process of making art inherently shifts perceptions, so that they oscillate between self, others, and the artwork to build remarkable new insights and discoveries.