Thursday, August 8, 2013


We had a very interesting and informative guest artist/speaker for our regular Greater Cincinnati Watercolor Society meeting on Wednesday morning.  Jenna Reynolds holds a Master's Degree in Family Therapy and is a board certified art therapist, marriage and family therapist working at her own business - My Little Red Haus - in Cincinnati.  She shared her experiences over the years about the children she works with, sharing some of the artwork the children had created as a way to demonstrate the symbols children often use to "speak" to a therapist.  

I am so glad there are strong women like Jenna who are helping these smallest of victims of abuse and neglect!

In her talk, Jenna gave us some history of art therapy, which began in the 1920's as a result of the very different artwork created by schizophrenic patients in hospitals.  She talked about her own working history, beginning with her education and then her first job working for the Cincinnati Children's Home in Madisonville.  She now has her own business and therapy site called My Little Red Haus.  

Jenna told us how symbolism plays a major role in children's artwork and there are two types of art therapy (both of which she uses in her therapy sessions):  
1) Art as Therapy and 
2) Art Psychotherapy.  

Art as Therapy is what most of us do:  We go to our art studios and get away from everything when we're in a creative mood; time evaporates and we feel calm and happy, especially when our artwork gets positive responses.  

Art Psychotherapy is driven by the therapist as far as materials used and what is created.  Materials for art psychotherapy range from the Fluid (like watercolor or finger paints) to the Resistant (like clay and other manipulative materials).  A therapist may choose a more fluid material for a client who is closed up and guarded as a way to open them up; the therapist may choose something more resistant for a client who needs more structure and tactile experience.

There are typical drawings a therapist asks a child to draw at an initial setting, including the House Tree Person drawings = 3 drawings of things that all represent the person.  The Bridge Drawing tells the therapist how the client feels and what their goals are - if they are moving forward or backward; if they can plan for their future.  

Jenna works with children of all ages and their families.  She does one-on-one personal counseling and art therapy, too.  She really opened my eyes about the role of an artist in a therapeutic setting.


Studio at the Farm said...

Great post, Rhonda. I found the subject fascinating. Jenna sounds like a wonderful woman.

Katherine Harra said...

I've often wondered what art therapy involved, but never taken the time to research it. Having an art therapist as a speaker for your organization is a wonderful idea (I'll suggest it to our program chair). And since I don't live near Cincinnati, thanks so much for the summary of what she had to say. Thank you.

CrimsonLeaves said...

I too am grateful for those who help our smallest victims.

Anonymous said...

Rhonda, great post. It’s an interesting subject. You only have to look at (and read up on) the Mandala work of the patients of Carl Jung to fully understand the direct correlation between expression in art form and the psyche. The unconscious mind left to doodle and express is a rare thing when we have so many learnt perceptions about what constitutes as 'good’ art and learnt perceptions about using the 'correct' painting techniques.

RH Carpenter said...

Glad you enjoyed the post today, Kathryn, Katherine, Sherry and Maggie. No judgements of the art in her work, just determining what it might mean to the artist - she says she doesn't think like a therapist when viewing artwork in galleries, though! haha