facebook icon

pracdemia header

David Gussak - Using Art Therapy to Reverse the Delinquent Label with Juvenile Detention Populations

Using Art Therapy to Reverse the Delinquent Label with Juvenile Detention Populations      

David Gussak

Despite its pervasiveness, teen delinquency remains one of the most vexing issues in contemporary society not only in the United States but around the world. Our response has generally been to saddle them with a label of “delinquent” or “deviant”, assess them as potentially harmful, and incarcerate them in increasingly large numbers. Understanding how adolescents experience and are shaped by institutional life is imperative in reversing the trajectory towards future incarceration. Environmental interactions influence the behavior of these children as detention centers, camps, and court ordered schools propagate and solidify the negative labels they are given. However, while interactions perpetuate these identities, they can, in turn, help reverse them. Drawing from Social Interactionism and Labeling Theory, this presentation demonstrates that not only is art beneficial in assessing the states, needs and struggles of the juvenile detainee, but also how art has been found to be valuable in creating and facilitating new interactions that help mitigate these labels.  

Drawn from a chapter in the newly released book Art and Art Therapy with the Imprisoned: Re- Creating Identity, this presentation will rely on research, case vignettes, illustrations and discussions with other art therapists to underscore how art therapy can potentially help reverse the negative labels and identities placed on ‘delinquent’ youth and interrupt a cycle that often leads to adult imprisonment.


Prof. David Gussak. Ph.D., ATR-BC. Florida State University, USA. Professor at the Florida State University's graduate art therapy program and Program Coordinator for the FSU/Fl Dept. of Corrections Art Therapy in Prison program. He is the author of Art on Trial: Art Therapy in Capital Murder Cases, co-editor of the 84-chapter The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy with his colleague, Dr. Marcia Rosal, and has developed and writes a blog for Psychology Today, “Art on Trial: Confessions of a Serial Art Therapist”. His latest book is Art and Art Therapy with the Imprisoned: Re-Creating Identity. He has, through his research, national and international presentations and publications, become one of the leading authorities on art therapy in forensic and correctional settings.    

הצטרפות לרשימת תפוצה