Art therapists may be unique in their ability to build a therapeutic relationship with people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). One strategy in working with individuals with ASD is to bridge the goals of therapy with clients' perseverative or repetitive interests.
The author sought to develop a facilitative therapeutic framework for the integration of perseverative interests derived from popular culture into art therapy using a grounded theory study that examined the role of perseverative interests in therapeutic relationships with individuals on the spectrum. Grounded theory analysis was conducted on data from art therapy clinical notes from 8 clients with an ASD diagnosis, documentary footage, and a videotaped walk-through interview with a child with ASD. The study identified 6 ways in which popular culture can function in the art therapy relationship with clientele who have autism: (a) as behavioral reward, (b) as social initiator, (c) as social facilitator, (d) as personal metaphor, (e) as anxiety mediator, and (d) as communication clarifier.
Jessie Stallings, DAT