1.14 Abandonment Feelings Well when abandonment feelings well from within, but the black roof added to the white building gave room for hope.
At this point the therapist remade the butterfly and stated, "The butterfly came back and now it's stronger." This use of metaphor was less intrusive than if the therapist had attempted to explore the client's feelings of loss and abandonment in a direct manner. After noting that the blue man was now completely separated from the other objects, the therapist placed the butterfly at the man's feet (object constancy), and this ended the session. Once again, no verbal discussion was imposed; only symbolic gestures and verbal metaphors would be utilized until the client felt safe and comfortable.
In the eighth art therapy session the client was once again presented with the clay objects, but he stated that he didn't want to work in clay any longer: he wanted to make a picture. He sought out poster board and chose pencils (a very controlled medium) and drew the image on the left side of Figure 1.15. The writing above the wavy-lined man says, "Talk about how you feel." He carefully placed the completed drawing behind the clay objects and spoke briefly about the picture. The client stated, "This is how anxious people draw." Note how similar this figure is to the blue man that represents the client (right side of Figure 1.15).
The initial on the wavy-lined man's chest (digitally changed) belongs to the client, and this reinforced the therapist's interpretation that the men that the client was making all symbolized aspects of him. It is also noteworthy that at this juncture the client wanted desperately to give up the
transitional object (clay men) yet was unable to, and thus utilizing a new medium (drawing) continued to yield the same symbol. He was, however, attempting to move toward autonomy, and therefore his assertive actions were met with approval and acceptance.
In the last art therapy session the client returned to the clay project and spent an inordinate amount of time on the car. He detailed it with headlights and moved it around the area in play. He then gave the white man (superego symbol) eyeglasses and stated, "Now he can see better." He then added a heart to the white man and snowman and positioned the blue home and man (negative aspects of the self) in the background. As we look over the completed project (Figure 1.16; see disk to view in color), the created symbols represent not only the client but also his emotions and the contrasting parts of his personality (id, ego, and superego). It is also noteworthy that through the defense mechanism of condensation he created figures to represent these aspects. The white man symbolized the superego (he scolds the blue man and tells him to do the right thing), and this superego was found not only within the client but also within the therapist. The blue man, with his anger microphone, as a representation of the id is a lone figure venting and acting in accordance only with its own desires. Yet as the project progressed he soon leaves the blue house (of fun), destroys the
anger microphone (and does not recreate it), and enters a house of safety (the white house) where he can discuss feelings. Finally, a snowman appears. Initially placed in the background (Figure 1.14), it takes center stage next to the white man and is given a heart. This figure, the antithesis of the others, has been given open arms with a less regressive trunk.
Figure 1.16 was the last art therapy project completed by the client. The defense mechanism of condensation, as well as this client's infantile regressive features, was rechanneled into a burning desire to plan for and discuss his future living arrangements in the community.
The release of this client's id drives, through the use of transitional objects in a structured environment, allowed the regressive process to run free without judgment. The abandonment depression, which he was able to experience and not just process intellectually, was successfully navigated through quiet listening and uninterrupted attention. In short, the client's fears were permitted liberation through symbolization, whereupon he was then able to find a satisfaction that was both ego supportive and stabilizing.
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