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BODY-CENTERED ART ACTIVITY:
DEVELOPMENT OF LEXITHYMIC BODY AWARENESS IN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY AND PROFESSIONAL TRAINING [1] )

Georg Keller
© COPYRIGHT by Georg Keller and by the German publishing house Verlag Modernes Lernen, Dortmund.

Keller, Georg. Winter 2001. ‘Body Centered Art Activity – Development of Lexithymic Body Awareness in Occupational Therapy and Professional Training,’ The Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, ISSN 0832-2473 (CATAJ), Volume 14 Number 2 pp.29-43.

Abstract:
At first this article is pointing out a close connection between body awareness and emotional experience, especially illustrated by body-imageries. Then the term ‘Alexithymy’ and the relationships between medical treatment, body, body scheme, body image, self image and psychotherapy are explained. Afterwards there is a representation of different artistic activities, which can help both students in education and alexithymic patients in therapy to perceive the own body and own emotions clearer and to encounter their fellow men more openly and empathically. Occupational therapy can become a bridge between usual medical treatment and psychotherapy.

Keywords: occupational therapy, art therapy, education, alexithymy, body image, sensory awareness

Introduction

The author is a German occupational therapy teacher. German occupational therapists often apply artistic means in their work in psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. Some of them receive additional training in art therapy. This article describes body centered art activity as an incentive measure for starting a process of growing self-awareness in short-term therapy with hospitalised patients or in education. Georg Keller, Daniela Keller and Veronika Hofmann M.A./Vermont Coll. did the translation of this article.

1. The outside physiognomy versus the subjective body perception

Even though a person’s outside appearance is usually rather stable, the internal body perception can be completely different and does vary depending on momentary conditions.

Frequently overweight patients draw themselves extremely small, opposite to their visible constitution. Inquired about their drawings in a trusting atmosphere, some of them will tell you they experience themselves small and lost in relation to the large, distant world. Their artwork is expressing their subjective anatomy’ [2] . Thure von Uexküll introduced this term in the context of his work on Psychotherapy of Psychosomatic diseases. Continued…..

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