Art & Drama Therapy: Child Life Inservice Workshop
by Judith Rubin, PhD & Eleanor Irwin, PhD
This video shows excerpts from a workshop conducted by Judy Rubin, an art therapist, and Ellie Irwin, a drama therapist, with 9 Child Life Therapists and a Music Therapist at a Children’s Hospital. The group is led in art and drama activities, illustrating possible interventions with seriously ill children. In addition to the potential use of the specific exercises, instruction is offered throughout about basic principles for sensitivity and success in ways of incorporating art and drama more safely and effectively. Staff members are invited to raise questions during the training.
Participants are encouraged to play with multicolored plasticine clay for creating 3D sculptures to use in improvisational dramatic play. After engaging in silent movement-drama, moving the sculptures around a shared paper space until finally settling on a space, the children are then invited to create nonverbal “worlds” on paper using drawing materials. They begin dramatic play inventing voices for their characters - creating puppet play stories, both with ready made and personalized puppets they made.
In Depth
Interwoven throughout are discussions about elements of establishing a safe atmosphere for creative expression and reflection in both process and product. These include: creating a safe and relaxed environment to enable the expression of thoughts and concerns; responding to inquiries of a personal nature; providing variety and choices in materials; and facilitating non-threatening expressions of feelings. This interplay of modalities, along with comments about theory and technique, can serve as a guide for all those who want to work with children in a deeper, more empathic way.

Although the workshop was followed by two members trying out what they had learned with children in their hospital rooms while observed and assisted by the art therapist, such follow-up activities under supervision over time would be the optimal way to help participants integrate what they can take from such a workshop experience.

This video was formerly included in the Expressive Media Arts Therapies Films Collection distributed by Expressive Media Inc.  

Length of video: 1:32:39

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-613-7

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-613-4

Judith Rubin, PhD, is a psychologist and art therapist and is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh Psychoanalytic Society & Institute. Dr. Rubin is the author of five books, including The Art of Art Therapy.

Eleanor Irwin, PhD, is a psychologist and drama therapist, as well as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.
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