Paradox as an Area of Inquiry in Art Therapy: A Heuristic Study

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Wasik, Arlette
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This heuristic, art-based study explores the creative expression of paradox as an area of inquiry in art therapy. The concepts of paradox and integration of opposites are discussed through a review of the literature in the art therapy field and in related fields. A careful review of the literature resulted in very little information on the subject of the exploration of paradox through art making. An art-based, heuristic method and the intention/witness process are employed in this study to examine the results of an art therapist exploring the personal paradox of anxiety/fear versus courage. The steps in this study are drawn from the work of Moustakas (1990) and Bloomgarden & Netzer (1998). The resulting nine drawings and nine sets of writings are examined for emergent themes and include a creative synthesis of the collected data. The hypothesis: As a result of intensive, art-based self-exploration of personal paradox, in this case anxiety/fear versus courage, an art therapist can understand herself more fully and develop an increased sense of personal balance and integration, was supported. This heuristic research process resulted in crystallization of tacit information. Personal insights, shifts in attitude, and changes in behavior are noted. The research processes, artwork, and writings are explored for application in art therapy practice. Limitations of the study are discussed and areas for further research are suggested.