Working Alongside: Communicating visual empathy within collaborative art therapy

Gary Nash, Michiyo Zentner

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The terms working alongside, parallel artmaking, painting together and joint
activity have been used to describe an innovative and experimental phase in art
therapy practice that involves the art therapist’s arts-based response towards
the client either in one-to-one or groupwork contexts. This method involves the
art therapist’s artmaking within the relational dynamic and is done so to extend
an arts-based connection with the client and further non-verbal communication
through visual arts media. The approach described enables the therapist to enter
a shared creative space using art as an improvised method to connect, interact,
reflect or mirror the client’s art process. This article explores the scope of this practice approach and the importance of visual empathy, its contribution to clinical
formulation and the role of clinical supervision in reflecting on the artwork to gain
access to intersubjective experiences between the therapist, the client and their
creative collaboration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Arts & Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2023
EventInnovation in the Arts in Therapy - University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Jul 202322 Jul 2023


  • parallel artmaking ostensive communication co-production mirroring aesthetic distance response art copying visual attunement
  • aesthetic distance
  • visual attunement
  • response art
  • co-production
  • copying
  • parallel artmaking
  • mirroring
  • ostensive communication


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