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J Marital Fam Ther. 2006 Oct;32(4):405-19.

Externalizing problems through art and writing: experiences of process and helpfulness.

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA.


Externalization of problems as a component of narrative therapy has been well defined by such authors as Epston and White, and Freedman and Combs. This study reflects the voices and experiences of 17 participants who engaged in an innovative externalization exercise combining sculpture and journaling over a period of 4 weeks. In an attempt to better understand the experience of the participants, the principal investigator also engaged in the exercise. Findings indicated that the intervention helped participants express emotions, increased their awareness of personal resources and agency, helped separate problems from self decreased symptoms and problem behaviors, and fostered a sense of empowerment. This study reveals the potential usefulness of physically externalizing problems and interacting with them deliberately over time. Such interventions may be useful components of narrative therapy or augmentations to brief therapy. They may help reach populations who have limited access to therapy services or who are reluctant to present for therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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