Paradigms and Research : Examining the History and Future of Art Therapy

Paradigms and Research :
Examining the History and Future of Art Therapy

by Diana Gregory & Rick Garner


This article focuses on two basic factors underlying the practice of art therapy, paradigms and research. Art therapists generally borrowed their theoretical orientations or paradigms from the field of psychology. The establishment and evolution of paradigms forms the scientific basis of art therapy. An understanding of these paradigms is a prerequisite for the practice of art therapy. A prerequisite to grasping the nature of paradigms is an understanding of research methods and design. The relationship of paradigms and research is discussed with an emphasis on their importance to the field of art therapy.


Art therapy, as it’s name implies, is a combination of art and science. Art therapy may have grown up in the shadow of the medical model (Young, 1995), however, as a discipline art therapy has uniquely combined art and science providing a model for the interaction between two disciplines often viewed as separate. Rubin (1987) described art therapy as a “youthful discipline” which is working hard to define its identity for itself as well as for others (p. xix). Because art therapy is a young discipline, there are many different approaches within the discipline that are based on different psychological schools of thought and therapeutic models. These orientations serve as paradigms for the individual art therapist working within the discipline. As Rubin (1987) stated, in order to function “as sophisticated members of any clinical or educational team” art therapists comprehension of any theoretical stance must be as “deep and clear as that of other professionals” (p. xvi). […]

Source Artery 2000; continued here

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