Mystical Circles of Healing: An Exploration of Shield Drawing & Painting and its Impact on the Experience of Anticipatory Grief

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Beckner, Joni
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This inquiry explores the value and use of shield drawing and painting in addressing the complex emotional and spiritual experience of anticipating the death of a loved one. Using Moustakas’ (1990) systematic approach, the researcher engages in a personal exploration of the shield as a protective form, one which embodies profound qualities of transformation and healing. In the context of the shield’s symbolic and historical significance, the researcher examines the way in which art making, specifically shield drawing and painting, deepens personal insight and attempts to ascertain whether shield making facilitates an increase in coping abilities. Finally, the researcher explores ways in which the art making enhances integration of the loss experience. The phenomena of anticipatory mourning is often overlooked in the literature and the development of art therapy interventions which address the needs of this population are encouraged. The importance of developing specific directives using the shield is emphasized and the recognition of the significance of shield work is encouraged through the researcher’s art-based exploration.