Pieces Found and Placed: A Mindfulness Approach to Art Therapy With a Group For Female Survivors of Childhood Trauma

by Cindy Fawcett

When mindfulness and art psychotherapy come together they can provide a powerful framework for working toward change and transformation. This research study has highlighted the function of this approach and its influence on trauma recovery work with a group for female survivors of childhood trauma in later stages of recovery. An action research framework provided a here-and-now form of mutual inquiry for examining the intersection of mindfulness, art psychotherapy and group psychotherapy. Mindfulness and art psychotherapy functioned as an integrated model where clients cultivated an attunement to their internal and external sensory experiences without getting swept into the trauma story. With a focus on both artwork and body sensations, this approach has proven effective as a foundation for establishing the safety and stability required when working with traumatic memory. Through its emphasis on present moment sensory experience clients developed insight into patterns of relating and responding to painful experiences, while also enhancing their capacity to discern, tolerate and respond to pain in healthier ways. Maintaining a presence with the here-and-now creative process was fundamental to each group member’s growing capacity to express their experiences and emotions, to make meaning of the past and present, to work with pain, to acknowledge joy, and to integrate these experiences appropriately into their lives.