Manthe, Lisa

Andy Goldsworthy inspired nature art therapy: the resolution of trauma in adolescence

Lisa A Manthe

Andy Goldsworthy inspired nature art therapy provides a metaphoric template in which an adolescent explores time, change, and loss. This paper explores the research within a nine-week Andy Goldsworthy inspired nature group-based treatment intervention for teenagers diagnosed with PTSD. Goldsworthy speaks to the importance of a heightened sense of touch or ‘haptic’ state that nature sculpture provokes within the artist, utilizing all senses (Malpas, 2007; Goldsworthy, 2004). This whole-body, mindful contemplation of place and the present directly connects to the asserted need of the adolescent struggling with trauma (Van der Kolk, 2014). Nature art therapy allows the individual to create an essential sense of safety through the involvement of right brain interventions as well as the resolution of attachment to the environment. The importance of re-establishing a safe place for growth is essential to the developing needs of the adolescent struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Linda Chapman and Allen Schore (2014) speak of the importance of utilizing a treatment model that embraces physical-somatic memory, verbal cognitive memory, and all components of the trauma. Nature art therapy addresses all of the senses and provides a window into ‘fantastic reality’ that directly speaks to the held trauma. Making art in a natural environment speaks directly to themes of change, death, decay, and growth (Whitaker, 2010). There is a certain degree of unpredictability in nature that compels the artist to consider that and react to it directly within the art. Nature inspires us to evaluate the bigger picture and gain perspective on meaning (Whitaker, 2010). Hillman (1995) suggests that the deepest layers of the psyche emerge in reaction or response to organic matter. The natural world is not static, it is constantly evolving, pressing on the notion of time. The work stimulates capacity for sensory, cognitive, and affective engagement. Nature art therapy allows the individual to re-establish trust within their environment and connection with others disrupting the hyper individualized focus of modern society. Attachment to the environment as the ‘good enough mother and father’ can be established offering a template for healthy attachment and resolution of trauma.



Lisa A Manthe  The focus of Lisa’s clinical work since 1993 has been developing and providing treatment to adolescents within New Directions School, known for its innovative approaches within art therapy. Lisa has served as an Adjunct Professor at Notre Dame de Namur University’s graduate art therapy program for over 16 years. A practicing artist who exhibits regularly, she believes that art is a way of creating community, vision, and voice.

Lisa’s current research focuses on the impact of nature-based Andy Goldsworthy inspired art therapy groups on adolescents diagnosed with PTSD. Lisa was recognized for her positive impact in her community with the Playmakers grant, which fully funded her interdisciplinary project focusing on adolescence, and personal and collective identity through sculpture and theatre.

Lisa is currently focused on the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and publishing, through the intersection of art therapy, nature therapy, neuroscience, and attachment.


Recent Publications & Presentations

Manthe, A. (2017). Contributing Author.  In: Carolan, R. & Backos, A. (eds). Emerging Perspectives in Art Therapy:Trends ,Movements & Developments. Routledge.

Manthe, A. (2017). Nature Art Therapy: Preliminary Research Findings. ATOL: Art Therapy OnLine  8 (1) 2017

2018: Adolescent Mental Wellness Conference: Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Access –April 27-28 2018.  Panel Presentation.

Clinical Art Therapy with Adolescents: Neurodevelopment, Assessment and Treatment Utilizing Art Therapy Process