Art Therapy Association of Vermont workshop: Panel Books

This past week has been crazy busy. I somehow ended up volunteering to teach 2 bookbinding workshops within 5 days of each other. My first workshop was held this past Saturday for the Art Therapy Association of Vermont (ATAV). As I’ve mentioned before, I have a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy. I believe strongly in the value of book arts as a medium for therapeutic work. My background in art therapy clearly influenced me in my choice of creative work. Since I’m currently a non-practicing art therapist, my main tie to the field has been attending ATAV meetings.

The structure I decided to teach to the members was the Panel Book, which I had already taught once to the Book Arts Guild of Vermont back in October. There were only 4 people there, which helped relax me a bit. I was able to give folks more individual attention than I usually do.

Bookbinding workshop for the Art Therapy Association of Vermont

ATAV members hard at work

I tried to think of reasons why the panel book in particular had possibilities for art therapists:

  1. It would be a good structure to use in a group. Each panel in the book was the size of an artist trading card (ATC). You could have group members process a particular theme in their artwork in ATC format and then swap cards with other group members. The ATC’s would then be added to the panels.
  2. You can follow progress on particular issue. The book could hold as many panels as a certain number of sessions. Have the client process a theme or issue in each session and then use the panel format as a time line to review progress.
  3. There are different ways to view content. When opened, you can read a panel book from the front or the back. When closed, you can turn the pages like a traditional book, which changes the sequence to include both front and back panels. It could help a client to literally look at something from a different point of view.

I’m sure there are other applications that I haven’t considered yet. In general, I just dig the fact that the panel book has movement. Movement is good in therapy. I went into the workshop with my usual performance anxiety. Presenting workshops does seem to be getting easier over time. I’m still waiting for the day when I can go into a workshop and not be nervous at all.

I’ll leave you with the following photo. I don’t even remember someone taking this shot and when I found it on my camera I laughed. Somehow I got glued.

Elissa Campbell getting glue on her hand

7 Responses to “Art Therapy Association of Vermont workshop: Panel Books”

[…] Art Therapy Association of Vermont workshop: Panel Books […]

By amy - 3 June 2009 Reply

I’ve been looking all over for published work in regards to Art therapy and Bookbinding. I am working on my thesis and want to write about this. I have some ideas but I’m looking for related litature to back up what I’m thinking. I was wondering if you could point me in some directions.

By elissa - 10 June 2009 Reply

Hi Amy,

In 1995, I presented my grad school thesis on using bookbinding in the expressive therapies. There wasn’t any written material on the topic back then either. In fact, my thesis advisor told me that there was no way I’d be able to write a thesis on the topic (I showed her!).

I used a lot of references on the use of bookbinding in education, along with some bookbinding theory texts (Keith Smith). In the time since I wrote my thesis, there have been a few AATA conference sessions on using bookbinding – you might want to go to the presenters to see what references they used – they’re likely to be more current than mine.

If I can be of any more help, send me an Email and we can discuss it further.


By amy - 13 June 2009 Reply

Thanks! I have to do some educational type therapy with a few clients and that will probably be good!

There is a woman doing a workshop on bookbinding in Philly but I can’t make it. There was an article on altered books in the AT magazine.

My thoughts on it are it’s a container, increases self esteem, increases skills in organizing, a self representation, and self soothing (the repetitive sewing). I think I might have one more thing but I can’t think of it right now.

By elissa - 16 June 2009 Reply

Amy –

It’s been a while since I reviewed my thesis, but I know that the concept of the book as a container was a big focus. If you want, I can try and dig it out to give you an idea of what I examined.


By amy - 19 June 2009 Reply

Yeah! That would be great.

I have 2 paragraphs from a printmaking as therapy book. It talks about skill for organizing, decision making, making associations, and functioning as a container.


By elissa - 22 June 2009 Reply

Is your printmaking book by Lucy Mueller Young? The Art Therapy Association of Vermont had Lucy as a presenter for a workshop in June 2008 entitled Printmaking as Therapy: Frameworks for Freedom. It was pretty fabulous. There was a bookmaking component to the workshop as well.

I’ll be leaving for a conference on Wednesday and can look for my thesis files upon my return.

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This