Place, matter and meaning: Extending the relationship in psychological therapies Academic Article uri icon


  • Discourse in psychotherapeutic practice has typically focussed on technique and the therapeutic relationship. The setting in which psychological therapies occur has attracted little research attention to date. What we have understood as relationship may need to be expanded to include aspects of the material environment as constitutive in the dynamic process of psychotherapy. An in-depth, art-based method was used to understand the lived experience of the room of therapists and clients of art therapy. First person lived-experience accounts were sought from adult clients and therapists of their respective rooms of therapy. The study found that deep attachments to place and to objects and zones in the room provided support and stabilising influences on the therapy process for both groups. The results may have broader relevance for other forms of psychological practice.

publication date

  • May 2011