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Saturday, July 9 • 13:00 - 14:30
Session 4D: Letting the S^*+ Out of the Bottle: Process Cartooning (Graphic Narrative Medicine) as a Clinical Intervention

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Kurt Shaffert: "Letting the S^*+ out of the Bottle": Process Cartooning (Graphic Narrative Medicine) as a Clinical Intervention

THE SHIT IN THE BOTTLE! hah hah...a droll typographic error, non? All stoppered up so the poison gasses can't escape...not a good situation for an ostensibly confessional, autobiographical taboo breaker. Toxic."

— Art Speigelman

(Be A Nose Vol 3: Autophobia, 3/14/07)

When I walk into a patient's room what I want to do is create sacred space; a space that transcends the IV pole, the hospital gown, the beeps, the diagnosis, the blood draws. I'm trying to free up some room where something new can be experienced, told, shared; a place for feelings, story, and meaning-making; a stage in the theater of the imagination upon which "the things on one's heart" can be expressed, explored and witnessed. Remarkably, it doesn't take much: 15 minutes with a patient, their words, their stage directions to a stick figure, and a piece of paper and a pencil to reflect back to them these "things on their heart" through a quickly sketched stick-figure cartoon. The process of cartooning with patients facilitates reflections in ways which do not occur during conventional clinical conversation. In a hospice unit, a medical/surgical floor or an inpatient psychiatry unit, a patient relaxes and reflects (it's cartooning, after all). I offer prompts and reflect back their own words for confirmation. The medium of cartooning invites patients to express and explore the most intimate and heaviest of issues with sincerity and humor. Because the process of narrating cartoon boxes both slows down the narrator, as well as boils down the wording more succinctly than in written Life Reviews and more freely than if facilitating poetry, the “heart” of what matters most to the patient often is quickly and directly conveyed. Process Cartooning ("it's about the process, not the product") is based upon the relational theories of Winnicott, Bion and Buber and draws upon the evidence-based therapeutic modalities of Narrative Therapy, Drama Therapy and Art Therapy to offer an empowerment-model, meaning-making intervention. While conventional Art Therapy is based on the patient accessing their own artistry for expressing themselves, this form of collaborative cartooning offers the skills of the clinician as a cartoonist/drawer-of-stick-figures to assist the patient in "letting the s^*+ out of the bottle". The patient has the freedom to focus on the narration as well as to see immediate responses to dictation and stage directions. Transformation and behavioral change develop through the healing intimacy of human persons encountering the sense of wonder, awe, humor and humility of conceiving and birthing together a messy, life-filled 4-panel cartoon in the midst of the beeps and blips of a clinic.



Saturday July 9, 2016 13:00 - 14:30 BST
Room G12

Attendees (7)