This film offers an overview of Kramer’s pioneering clinical work in art therapy with children. Historic photos at Wiltwyck School for Boys mark the beginning of art therapy in the US and introduce the film. We meet Kramer in live group sessions with children at the Jewish Guild for the Blind where she worked during the 1960’s – 1970’s. She explains how these blind children’s perception of body image becomes unconsciously incorporated into their plastic art expression, revealing hallmark features of this disability. Kramer demonstrates that art therapy enables children to be themselves, promoting a greater sense of personal autonomy. Strikingly, she confidently entrusts the handling of adult tools to them, generating in them a sense of respect for safety issues.
Finally, Kramer invites us to witness two diagnostic demonstration interviews. The first, with a young boy, is from the film “Art Therapy: Beginnings” made in 1975, The second was filmed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In both, Kramer uses her unique diagnostic procedure. It is designed to reveal the complexity of an individual as revealed by each of three art therapy creations using the primary materials of art expression – drawing, paint and clay Psychological dynamics are elicited in each child through the three tasks. Kramer’s astute observational insights demonstrate the effectiveness of this method, which differs widely from many other art therapy diagnostic procedures. The depth and competence of training that the art therapist brings to the diagnostic interview clearly enables these uncontrived tools to be used evocatively and powerfully, particularly in contrast to diagnostic procedures that rely upon more formulaic rating scales.
Total Running Time: 45 minutes, 45 seconds