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Brief Intervention Strategies

Each intervention strategy presented in the Traditional Intervention Strategies section can be modified to serve clients in brief therapy settings. The selection of expressive art approaches that use materials that may need cleaning or disposal must be made with concern for time and feasibility of use. Remember, any intervention strategy that is modified must still be conceptually based on the therapeutic needs and goals of the client.

An intervention that is brief in nature and includes elements from the three integrative approaches is called the 5-minute sprint. This brief approach is designed to develop cathartic expression through narrative and symbolic means. Clients are instructed to keep a list of various topics that they can use to write their "sprint." Topics may include existential questions such as "Who am I?" or "Why am I here?" During sessions, if a client seems stuck, the counselor may instruct the client to do a 5-minute sprint to clarify her or his thoughts and feelings. What is produced through this exercise is an expedient cathartic expression of the client's deepest fears, desires, anxieties, and so on. The incorporation of colored pencils or crayons as writing mediums creates more symbolic and artistic expressions. The counselor processes the themes and style of the written work with the client as a means of promoting reflection and deeper emotional expression (Thompson, 2004)

Clients With Serious Mental Health Issues

The integrative approaches have been found to be very effective with clients who have the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Narrative, drama, and art therapies have been found to be effective for exploration, expression, and management of schizophrenia (Bielanska & Cech- nicki, 1991; Crespo, 2003; Lysaker, Lancaster, & Lysaker, 2003). The narrative approach has also been successfully used in aiding clients with schizophrenia to express their thoughts when dialogue was impeded by their disorder (Lysaker, Wickett, Wilke, & Lysaker, 2003).

In their study, Hendricks, Robinson, Bradley, and Davis (1999) found that the use of music therapy with clients who suffer from clinical depression produced a decrease in depressive symptoms. These findings are supported by other models of music and expressive art therapies that purport the enlivening effects of these approaches.

Cross-Cultural Considerations

According to Semmler and Williams (2000), narrative therapy is an approach to counseling that naturally addresses the cultural context in which clients exist. Narrative approaches have been used successfully with various ethnic populations, specifically Asian American (Chan, 2003), Latino American (Bermridez & Bermtidez, 2002), and multiracial (Rockquemore & Laszlofiy, 2003) clients. This approach is also highly effective when working with women in their expression of inner realities through writing and poetry (Henehan, 2003; Lee, 1997).

Although symbolic approaches have been used to build understanding and rapport in cross-cultural counseling relationships, practitioners of this approach must be aware of cross-cultural values and norms. The symbols that a counselor may interpret as negative or even symbolic may actually be positive or literal expressions of the client (Eisenstien-Naveh, 2001). For example, simple gender differences between counselor and client around the issue of increasing intimacy in the client's life can have variant meanings and in turn represent different symbols within the counseling relationship. Counselors are wise to clarify definitions and terms when working from the symbolic approach. Continuous effort must be made by the symbolic counselor to challenge assumptions of meaning and to remain open to the phenomenological presentation of the client (Eisenstien-Naveh, 2001).

 
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