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sculpting, family sculpting

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631170488.1995.x


An active, non-verbal therapeutic technique, which was conceived by David Kantor and developed at the Boston Family Institute. It is also used in the training of therapists. It was, in fact, in that training and treatment centre that F. and B. Duhl contributed to the development of this mode of intervention which is increasingly used today (see Kantor and Duhl, 1973). Sculpting is a therapeutic game based on a confrontation of the pseudo-static and dynamic forms of attitudes and behaviour. The members of a family are represented and physically modelled during the sessions in positions symbolizing the mode of relations between them, as perceived by one or more members of the family. Thanks to this sculpting process, past events and attitudes, as these affect the present, may be perceived and tested out. Family sculpting inevitably gives rise to new meanings and a new picture of family relations, such as could not be produced by mere verbal expression (Kantor and Duhl, 1973). Papp et al. (of the New York Nathan Ackerman Institute) describe it as a form of therapeutic art within which each family member arranges the other members in a sculpture which physically symbolizes their interpersonal relations. Each person creates a portrait by placing the members together in terms of posture and spatial relations which represent action and feeling. The essentials of family experience are projected ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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