Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 14:10 to 15:40 Download Poster

A creative arts-based Intersubjective approach to treating severe trauma and torture

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Mr. Steve Frazier ( Mount Mary University - United States of America )


The presentation demonstrates the use of therapist created artwork for the purpose of enhancing attunement with and understanding of clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Art products can be a tool through which the therapist independently clarifies and expands his or her knowledge of clients and then shared artwork with a client as a way to communicate and connect with him or her in order to explore and increase the understanding which emerge from the artwork.


My research design is based in self-directed heuristic and hermeneutic methodologies in which I inquire how my own art can enhance my understanding of experiences of clients with regards to their cultural background, experiences of trauma, and adaptation to life in the United States. Questions are posed along the lines of “What is the nature of “x”? What is the impact of “x”? What is the meaning of “x”?” Examples of heuristic questions are: What is the meaning of Islamic faith in this particular client's life? What does it mean to grow up in the Congo where there are periodic, severely violent civil wars?
The heuristic method to create art in response to themes that arise in treatment. I will communicate through sharing these art works to express my understanding of the themes, which in turn will support empathy, attunement, and witnessing with regard to the life experiences and internal world of the client. The resulting hermeneutic dialogue supports inter-subjectivity because it contributes to an ongoing process of understanding meaning within the therapeutic process. The hermeneutic dialogue is comprised of a relational, cyclic process of understanding, responding, and connecting between the therapist and subjects or individuals and works of art.


The final outcome of the project is a compilation of the art I have created along with written summaries of each piece as it relates to a visual interpretation of the inter-subjective experience. No direct or indirect client information is included in the final project as the entire collection of art and summaries will be written from the heuristic perspective of the art therapist.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

No affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

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