Mask Making for clients with Schizophrenia

8” x 12” white plaster mask

Purpose: Identify and change self-talk and beliefs that interfere with recovery. Change negative thoughts into positive ones. Help client to increase self-concept and bolster belief system about self for the better.

Goal: Use mask-making (specifically using awareness of negative vs. positive messages) to teach the client (i.e., defining the problem constructively and specifically (what is a negative message, what is a reality-based message; brainstorming solution options (which one does the client choose?); evaluating the pros and cons of the options (if I do x, this will happen...); choosing an option; evaluating the results; and adjusting the plan (I can always change my mind).

Therapeutic Properties of the Media:
In a center used for art therapy and other modalities to serve people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other severe mental illness, Mimi Farrely-Hansen (2013) found “that art making done in this setting supports experimentation, risk taking, problem solving, social contact, interdependence, and self-esteem. Over time some members trade in their ‘mentally ill’ identity for an artist’s identity.” She brings in her own work to discuss and process with the group. 
Mask making can be used to bolster self-concept which in turn plays into the level of self-efficacy on has about him or herself. According to Dunn-Snow and Joy-Smellie (2000) masks can be increase individuality and self-awareness, obscure challenging emotions, act as a protective symbol and help with transformative experiences. 
Masks were used in a project called “Facing Homelessness” in which plaster gauze masks facilitated with social reparation. Allen (2007) reports that embellished and exhibited masks made by the homeless population raised awareness and challenged stereotypes about this population.
Allen, P. B. (2007). Facing homelessness: A community mask making project. In F. Kaplan (Ed.), Art therapy and social action (pp. 59– 71). London: Jessica Kingsley.
Dunn-Snow, P., & Joy-Smellie, S. (2000). Teaching art therapy techniques: Mask-making, a case in point. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 17( 2), 125– 131.
Howie, P., Prasad, S., and Kristel, J. (2013) Using Art Therapy with Diverse Populations: Crossing Cultures and Abilities (p. 3). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

  • Adaptations: Bring in magazine for or items that can be glued to the outside of the mask. 
  • Creative Options: Offer black Sharpie (Permanent Ultra-Fine Point Markers, Black, Pack Of 12) for drawing on the masks. Or paint markers.
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