Narratives of therapeutic art-making in the context of marital breakdown: Older women reflect on a significant mid-life experience

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Reynolds, F ; Prior, S ; Lim, KH (2008)

This paper explores the narratives of three women aged 65-72 years. They reflected on an episode of therapeutic art-making in midlife, which addressed depression associated with marital crisis and breakdown. The narrative analysis focused upon on the ways in which participants narrated the events leading up to their participation in therapeutic art-making; the aspects of therapeutic art-making that continued to be given significance; the characters given primacy in the stories they told about their journey through therapy and marital breakdown; meanings, symbolic and otherwise, that participants ascribed to their artwork made during this turning point in their lives; and aspects of the narratives that conveyed present-day identities and artistic endeavors. The narratives revealed the complexity of the journey through marital breakdown and depression into health, and showed that therapeutic art-making could best be understood, not as a stand-alone experience, but as given meaning within the context of wider personal and social resources. Participants looked back on therapeutic art-making that occurred two decades earlier and still described this as a significant turning point in their personal development. Art as an adjunct to counselling/therapy was not only symbolically self-expressive but provided opportunity for decision-making, agency and a reformulated self-image.
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