Morgan, Ange

Brave new frontiers: Using art to support experiences of role, relationship, identity and change in the context of transition and gender diversity within group art therapy

Throughout history, cultures around the world have recognised the existence of people beyond the binary of male and female. Colonisation has had an impacted on the understanding of gender identity that has existed for millennia. This paper explores ways in which art making has supported a range of intersections, relationships and dynamics within group art therapy work in situations where gender identity, specifically in relation to trans and gender diverse identities (TGD), becomes a focus.

Post the same sex marriage debate in Australia, which concluded with a yes vote in 2017, a new focus has emerged, of the rights and best practice care for people from TGD communities. With this, as occurred with the Yes vote campaign, emerging phobia has caused significant harm.

Art making within a weekly group for adults with mental illness and within a drop in centre for people experiencing homelessness is explored. Group themes emerging in relation to the therapist’s own trans and gender diverse identity have included grief and loss, power dynamics, the location of individual role within a group, and unity through marginalisation and ‘otherness’.

Questions arise of a theoretical nature about relationship between group, individuals in group and therapist in this pioneering space. Truth and trust emerge as clear themes when considering the formulation of a way forward in psychodynamic, person centred art therapy planning and process in this space. And truth and trust also emerge as clients and therapist work together, locating deeper senses of authenticity within their respective roles.

Within the current climate of greater awareness and debate of the situation for LGBTIQ communities in Australia, clients present to services with a range of experiences and identity questions of their own. Healthcare and training facilities are still catching up to best practice standards for those from the trans and gender diverse community, opening up an opportunity to explore new frontiers in practice and approach.




Ange Morgan is a registered art therapist (ANZACATA) practicing in Victoria, Australia.

Ange works in mental health, homelessness and family violence sectors, within public, private and community settings. They also lecture in the Master of Art Therapy program, in the area of adult mental disorders and provision of supervision at La Trobe University.

Ange has a particular interest in art therapy in the service of adults who have experienced homelessness, and in trans and gender diverse healthcare. They are interested in ways in which art therapy can assist people from backgrounds of homelessness to experience social inclusion, independent will, and to locate positive narratives and stability.

Ange has provided training to counsellors in Cambodia in the area of art making for trauma support, and holds a BA (Dance Performance) from VCA/Melbourne University, and a BA (Hons) in painting from RMIT.


Recent Presentations

2017: ANZPATH Biennial Conference Sydney – ‘Australian and New Zealand Transgender Health – finding a new narrative.

Title: An experience of transition in Australia: The role of time and the client/psychiatrist relationship in supporting clarity, mental preparation and arising themes pre- and post-surgery

2015: ECArTE – Cultural landscapes in arts therapies: Participation, diversity and dialogue’.

Title: Liminal space: Dynamics, movement and a convergence of cultures. Group art therapy for male clients experiencing homelessness and related issues