Saturday, May 30, 2009

What prevents empathy?

This week, the sex offenders in my Empathy group talked about what factors have prevented them from feeling empathy for someone. A lot of things interfered with them having empathy, including feeling anger toward that person, feeling entitled, not taking responsibility for their actions, justifying their behavior to themselves, numbing their feelings, and being selfish. The art work ranged from depicting the situation to symbolically representing the feelings involved. This Art Therapy directive helped the patients be more aware of what can prevent them from feeling empathy, so they can more consciously work toward not letting that happen.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Termination in Supervision

One of my supervisees decided to move on, so during her last supervision with the group, I asked everyone to create an image that we could incorporate into one big "quilt" that we could hang on the wall. I expressed that I hoped the departing therapist would take what she learned from us with her in her future experiences, and that the image "quilt" that we made would symbolize that a part of her would always be with us at the hospital. This afforded the Art Therapists the opportunity to say good-bye and share memories and thank each other. Termination is an important process for the therapist to prepare her patients for her departure, and it is also important to engage in that process with colleagues.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Family Activity Directive

This week, I had my Empathy Group draw a memory of a family activity. Most chose a happy memory to depict, and I had them empathize with other members of their family from that time. Empathizing with their family brought up other issues, and some were able to talk about the abuse they suffered as children. Then I had some of them empathize with those same family members, after they had committed their sex offenses. They were able to talk about the effect their crimes had on their family, and be more aware of the impact of their crimes. This Art Therapy directive helped the sex offenders further explore their family dynamic and feelings surrounding their family relationships.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Empathy to promote a positive behavior

Since last week I had my group address a time they felt empathy and it prevented a negative behavior; this week, I thought we would explore a time when they felt empathy and it caused them to do a positive or pro-social behavior or act. They were all able to identify a time when empathy helped them do the right thing. A couple of the sex offenders talked about helping the elderly. One was able to discuss how feeling empathy for his elders compared to not having empathy for his victims. This Art Therapy directive helped the patients realize that they are capable of acting appropriately when they feel empathy, and they were encouraged to practice feeling empathy and responding in a positive manner on a regular basis.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Empathy preventing a negative behavior

This week, my group created drawings to represent a time they felt empathy and it prevented them from doing something negative. One group member reported that empathy for one of his friends prevented him from giving her drugs, after she revealed she was pregnant. The topic also brought up discussion about not doing something negative as a result of feeling empathy versus knowing right from wrong. Some patients were able to relate this Art Therapy directive to their sex offenses, a few of them admitting they had no empathy for their victims prior to offending. This exercise can help the offender be more aware of how empathy can help them do the right thing.