Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

The M In PERMA Exploring Meaning And Purpose And Connecting To Self-Compassion Through Art Therapy (#71)

Janet McLeod 1
  1. Create Wellbeing, Helensville, AUCKLAND, New Zealand

This presentation will explore the M of PERMA, Seligman’s (2012) model of flourishing and wellbeing, from an art therapy perspective. Who has not asked what is the meaning of life and why am I here? Challenging questions for most, even when life is going well.  Life without meaning can lead to a sense of hopelessness.  Hopelessness has been shown to be one of the major contributing factors to self-harm and suicide.  Developing a sense of purpose and identifying reasons to live can help to mediate hopelessness (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011); however, for those in therapy facing life challenges and exploring meaning is often experienced as daunting and even overwhelming.  Art therapy can make this process less intimidating and therefore less likely to be avoided.  When we account for the role of art in evoking positive emotions, unleashing creativity and imagination, and fostering the therapeutic alliance, art therapy emerges as a highly effective method for exploring meaning and purpose. Artmaking and imagery naturally highlight strengths, beliefs, and values, making them more accessible to the individual and allowing them to be integrated more congruently in their daily lives.  This creates a safe but revealing avenue for exploring what really matters.