Research title: Lupa tulla näkyväksi : kuvataideterapeuttinen toiminta kouluissa. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän yliopisto.
Research title in English: Permission to be seen: art therapeutic activities in schools. Language: Finnish
The purpose of this study that places itself at the borderlines of the fields of art therapy, art education and special education is to explore the possibilities that art therapy can offer as a new learning environment in Finnish schools. As a response to a lack of creative practices in everyday education, the aim of my study is to introduce these possibilities of promoting pupils’ well-being through art therapy. In existential phenomenology, the basis of educational beliefs is the potential for affecting the actions of an individual.The research methodology followed the hermeneutic and fenomenographic principles. In addition to interviewing art therapists for the study, the study will also draw data from therapeutic teachers specialized in art therapeutic work. The focus is on the experiences of the informants, art therapists working in schools, and on the analysis of their implications as defined by the informants. In the interviews (N=15), I collected qualitative data regarding the practice of art therapists in schools and the ways in which their work was received by the teaching staff. This study will also create new knowledge about, and perspectives on, the potential of art therapy as a means of treatment in scaffolding pupils and enhancing their development in various areas of learning. The findings suggest that: (i) in Finnish schools it is difficult to have access to ‘physical’ settings that would be appropriate for art therapy sessions, (ii) for this reason, the art therapeutic method in the school setting is linked with and integrated more to the students’ needs. Students typically receiving art therapy suffer from learning difficulties, or attention and concentration difficulties and they have experienced several losses in their early childhood. (iii) The students/pupils who need art therapy often have experienced very serious loss in their early attachment relationships (Bowlby’s (1969) attachment theory becomes therefore relevant) and (iv) art therapy is integrated more in the field of special education than the mainstream school system. These findings will be presented and discussed in relation to the literature. The results of the interviews directed to the art therapists working in schools indicate that the school as an environment and setting differs significantly from the traditional environment of the conservative school culture.