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Under the Cobblestones: Politics and Possibilities of the Art Therapy Large Group.

Wiley Interscience
Publication Date
  • Subjects Allied To Medicine Not Elsewhere Classified
  • Politics
  • Visual Communication
  • Academic Studies In Higher Education
  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Political Science
  • Social Sciences


This paper discusses the politics and possibilities of linking the personal and political with therapeutic and social transformation through a teaching method provided on the art therapy training at Goldsmiths, the art therapy large group (ATLG). Three key ideas of May 68 are related to the ATLG and their relevance to other psychotherapies and psychotherapy trainings is considered. These are: the importance of the ‘capitalist’ university as an essential terrain in the struggle for social change; the Atelier Populaire’s use of art in an anti capitalist critique of the commodification of art and artist in society; and the anti imperialist character of the May events. These ideas are related to the theoretical base of the ATLG in the large verbal group literature, performance art and to the wide international membership of the ATLG creating a forum for engaging with global issues. To illustrate these points, we give an example of the interface of the political and the impact of a real event, the university lecturers’ strike in 2007 and the learning that took place in relation to this through the ATLG. We conclude that through a critical engagement with the university within the global terrain of contemporary neo-liberalism, the ATLG provides a territory that can: integrates the political and therapeutic in arts/psychotherapy trainings; provides a critique and alternative to the commodification of art and artist; engages with issues of difference in the globalized market place. The ATLG prepares the artist/student/therapist/worker to critically engage in the personal and social transformation of the politics of art and psychotherapy provision in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

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