Psychodynamic Approaches attempt to understand the inner landscape of our psyche and how we view ourselves in relation to others and the world. They aim for a greater experience of an improved self.

Psychodynamic Approaches derive from both Freudian and Jungian psychology. They aim “to make the unconscious conscious” via the communication of images, “leading eventually to insight”. Margaret Naumburge combined the two approaches when she conceived her “dynamically oriented art therapy”.

Psychodynamic Art Therapy also includes Object Relations. Winnicott and Robbins emphasised the significance of the primary relationship between mother and child. Within developmental psychology, Object Relations focuses on the natural course of separation of the infant from the mother referred to as the Other or Object. This framework explores the internalisations that can develop during the child’s gradual separation from the mother.

Robbins brings together Object Relations concepts and Art Therapy. He views art and the creative process as the treatment to rebuild and repair internal relationship ruptures or damage developed in early childhood. The art offers a way to mirror and witness the internal object (the internalised parent) configuration, which is often a non-verbal space.

Concepts such as True Self or False Self, the Good-Enough Parent, Holding, Transitional Object and Potential Space are considered. Art shows “the complex interaction of the objective and subjective realities that create a psychological space between two people” (Rubin, 2001, p. 58).

In Psychodynamic Art Therapy the ego, the id, the superego, the collective unconscious, the shadow, the masculine and feminine, the primary paternal relationship and raptured developmental milestones and transitions are for exploration and understanding. This Art Therapy approach is a way to project these aspects of ourselves for repair and to gain awareness of our inner realities, beliefs and feeling states in relation to life situations and others.

Rubin, 2001: Approaches to Art Therapy: Theory and Technique
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