Colored pencils, scissors, and construction paper may not commonly be associated with alternative dispute resolution, but that changed last month when LMU Loyola Law School’s Loyola Center for Conflict Resolution (LCCR) engaged in an art therapy workshop with the LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts (CFA).
Directing attendees in creating self-sculpture and other artistic expression, CFA’s Dr. Jessica Bianchi instructed attendees on how art can be an effective tool in the divorce process when used to enhance communication and reflection. Particularly useful for the services of mediation, conciliation, and facilitation of conflict resolution training, the clinical director of the Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic and assistant professor of Marital and Family/Art Therapy explained how these tools can enhance the center’s ability to achieve its goal of offering professional and effective community-based mediation programs.
Participants experimented with different visual art materials and directives to experience how visual art making can provide multiple opportunities for increasing self-awareness and community building. Attendees included board members of the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association joined the LCCR for this hands-on session.
“We discussed that the goal for this experiential workshop wasn’t to teach attendees how to do art therapy with their clients, but aimed to engage attendees in an experience that demonstrated how art therapists and the discipline of art therapy might be included in the collaborative mediation process in order enhance communication amongst professionals and their clients and encourage positive outcomes,” said Bianchi. “The HBL Art Therapy Clinic is very excited to collaborate with the Loyola Center for Conflict Resolution in order to support and learn from our different disciplines.”
The setting emphasizes the process over the product; no prior art experience is necessary. Though not therapy, attendees were invited to use the art-making process to express personal experiences at their comfort level.
“The hands-on approach of the workshop was very helpful. Being able to see first-hand how utilizing art in the context of communicating with and connecting with others was powerful,” said one attendee. They added, “I learned that people may feel more comfortable speaking about their art than themselves. And, that art can be a gateway to speaking about the self.”
LCCR’s services are are made possible in part through support from the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs and the California Dispute Resolution Programs Act. Loyola Law School students interested in opportunities at LCCR should click here. Those interested in learning more about the Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic’s art therapy services click here.