Forensic art therapist contributes to new book

Forensic art therapist Shaun Wassall has co-written a chapter in a new book, Forensic Arts Therapies, about forensic specific art therapy for personality disordered female offenders in a prison setting.

Forensic art therapist Shaun Wassall has co-written a chapter in a new book, Forensic Arts Therapies, about forensic specific art therapy for personality disordered female offenders in a prison setting.

 

Shaun, the Trust’s clinical lead art psychotherapist, who runs forensic art therapy sessions for female patients at Ridgeway, Middlesbrough and female offenders at the Primrose service at HMP Low Newton, co-wrote the chapter with prison officer Grahame Greener.

 

Forensic art therapy is a psychotherapy which touches upon an individual’s conscious and subconscious being and sense of self and identity. The therapy uses art to encourage women taking part to begin to discuss their problems or anxieties at a safe pace. Various materials, from paint and pastels to sculpture and poetry, are used depending on who is taking part.

 

Shaun said: “Being ‘good at art’ is not a pre-requisite to taking part in the therapy, rather a willingness to communicate emotions, feelings or traumatic experiences through the creation of an image as opposed to verbalising difficulties. Women taking part have told us that drawing their fears, anxieties and concerns for example feels safer to them than talking about it.”

 

Women at Ridgeway and the Primrose service can self-refer to forensic art therapy sessions, or be referred by their health professional, and take part in initial sessions to see if the approach is suited to them; if so, they can go on to take part in individual or group sessions as appropriate.

 

Shaun and Grahame, who have worked together on forensic art therapy at HMP Low Newton, were asked to write their chapter in Forensic Arts Therapies following a presentation they delivered at the Forensic Arts Therapies Advisories Group (FATAG) conference in 2013 about their collaborative work, as art therapist and prison officer, with female offenders.

 

Shaun said: “To be approached to contribute to the book after our conference presentation was wonderful. We see the positive impact forensic art therapy has on a daily basis, so to be able to formally share that experience is an honour.”

Forensic Arts Therapies: Anthology of Practice and Research. Edited by Kate Rothwell. (2016). London: Free Association Press.