Portrait Therapy and the Use of the “Third Hand” with Bereaved Adults

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Pell, Kristen
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The experience of loss and bereavement is a normal and universal human experience. However, despite its prevalence, the psychology community’s understanding of it continues to change and evolve. This research sought add to the literature on bereavement by exploring the lived experience of bereaved adults through using an art-based research (ABR) model. The researcher worked with six adults who had experienced the death of a loved one. Through the use of the third hand technique as developed by Kramer, the researcher and co-researchers collaboratively created portraits of the co-researcher’s deceased loved ones. The research was inspired by the researcher’s experience working with grieving adults and the realization that many adults were hesitant or unable to engage in artmaking yet could benefit from participation in a creative process. The researcher was inspired by collaborative art processes utilized in research of other fields and the use of the third hand technique within the field of art therapy. This research is a synthesis of these techniques applied to work with bereaved adults.