Exploring relations between body, communication and agency in therapeutic space

  • YEAR
    Liddicoat, Stephanie
    2015 Conference Papers
    Architecture and Social Research
    Conference Papers


Self harm has become increasingly prevalent in society and across cultures and although it is now widely accepted that it is separate from suicidal intent, it still remains a very ambiguous mental health condition. It is suggested that individuals who self harm have a particular relationship to
architecture through spatial layouts.2 The rearranging of a spatial layout3 is found to be confronting by individuals who self harm, and is avoided in order to circumvent having to face personal issues and
concerns which are brought to the surface by this rearranging of physical space, yet may also be a
platform for therapeutic healing and the development of agency. Several research threads from clinical
literature are discussed and posed as potential explanations for why these particular users have such an experience relative to the built environment, and why the built environment can also be a catalyst for change and healing for thus become part of a therapeutic process. A key finding is the ambivalence of spaces that provoke, confront and heal simultaneously. Design initiatives are suggested which explore a sense of agency as part of a therapeutic process, and further research avenues identified.


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