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Solution-focused practice, art and cartooning

Drawing and writing is a wonderful complement or sometimes even alternative to the talking we do in therapy. 


I have trained art therapists in solution-focused practice, and an internet search will quickly lead you to a number of articles about integrating solution-focused and arts therapies. You don’t have to be a specialist art therapist though to add visual elements to the talking.

On the Groupwork page you will find details of the group I have run called Drawing on Your Strengths. One of the activities the children liked the most, a version of which we did in all sessions of the programme we called the guessing game.

The title of an activity in the solution-focused therapy and cartooning groupwork programme by Guy Shennan and Tim Sanders - The guessing game

My cartoonist colleague, Tim, showed how you can draw something very simply, one line at a time, so that after a few lines people can recognise it. 

He first drew a vertical line, and invited the children to guess who it was. Then a short line at an angle from the top of the vertical line. Guess again? Then another line at an angle. Guess again, and so on. As he kept drawing small lines across the paper, one of the children got it – Bart Simpson!

The children then took it in turns to draw one of the other children doing something they were good at, one line at a time, while the rest of the group had to guess what it was. And the more mistaken guesses the better, because then the subject of the drawing heard more and more things that the others thought she or he was good at! 

Utilising people’s interests

I worked with John, aged 11, and his Mum, and when I asked about John’s interests in our first meeting, his Mum told me he liked to read the newspaper. Sounding a little unusual for an 11-year old, I remembered this a couple of sessions later when he was making good progress - and we made a front page of a newspaper together, in which he featured in all the stories.

A mock newspaper front page from a solution-focused therapy session by Guy Shennan with a child.

I will be sharing more examples of using drawing and other visual ways of communicating here - and would be interested to hear about your own.

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