chapter  1
12 Pages

Not What it Says on the Tin

A family awareness group in a high security hospital
ByAlex Maguire, Martina Mindang

In this chapter, the authors aim to relate the narratives of the Family Awareness Group, run in a high security hospital with men who have committed violent crimes. They discuss the creative collaboration between therapists in this slow-open group over six years, presenting the themes that emerged, and noting parallels between the lives of the men and the clinical setting. The authors illustrate the therapeutic relationships forged in the group, through a clinical vignette. They provide what I. Yalom termed the 'corrective recapitulation of the primary family group', wherein the dysfunctional patterns or roles the patients play or adopt in the group can be challenged and changed by playful and symbolic use of art and music. The art and music therapy co-working approach was attuned to noting and assessing very early damage to the patients' capacity to trust and 'play', locating early pre-verbal disturbance in the patients' capacity to think creatively.