Hawes, Jane

I look, you look, and together we see: joint attention as a pivotal therapeutic tool in art therapy.

Jane Hawes

A little girl, maybe three or four years old, is sprawled on the floor. She is drawing with crayons on a large rolled out paper. Next to her sits her mother, who watches her every move and smiles proudly. The little girl looks up happily and says, “Look, Mommy. That’s you, and see over there, that’s me!”

 “Yes,” answers her mother, “and look how we are smiling! But tell me, I can’t quite see. What are we doing?” 

Together, mother and child now find each other in the picture. Using her drawing, the little girl defines herself in relationship to her mother and the world around her. For a few fleeting moments, their thoughts are joined together as one, focused on the drawing.  They are sharing their consciousness, and their perceptions of themselves and each other are transformed.

Is this also what happens in the therapy room between the art therapist and their client? Can this magical moment be reproduced between two unrelated individuals who have come together in the hopes of promoting personal growth and improved mental health? 

Is joint attention (JA) between therapist and client, when directed toward artwork, a catalyst for positive change?  In Jane Hawes’s thesis she discovered that JA is an interpersonal catalyst promoting affect attunement, creation of a relational, potential space, and mentalization. She found JA to be a catalyst for therapeutic change and for strengthening the therapeutic alliance.

In this workshop, while participating in playful, yet challenging exercises, using paint, paper and pastels, we will explore how and when JA is present and just how it can be put to good use. Hopefully with a heightened awareness of this potent phenomenon we can increase our capabilities as therapists and as people.



Jane Hawes was born in Washington D.C. in 1955 and moved to Sweden in 1983 where she worked as an artist and filmmaker. She produced both animated and live-action films. Jane later became an art therapist and followed this with a master’s degree in disability studies and a psychotherapy degree in Relational and Interpersonal therapy.

As a Relational Art psychotherapist Jane works together with her clients using the healing power of creativity and human interaction in both individual and group therapy


Recent Publications

2014: Workshop: Art therapy with people with cognitive disabilities. Nordic Art Therapy Seminar, Norway.

2016: Workshop: Relational Therapy and Art Therapy - The Perfect Combination.  Nordic art therapy seminar, Finland.

Hawes, J. (2013).  www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:631617/FULLTEXT01.pdf 

1 SENDING A MESSAGE INTO OUTERSPACE: Communication Between Nonverbal, Intellectually Disabled Adults with ASD, and the People Around Them. Halmstad University Press.


Joint Attention as a Pivotal Therapeutic Tool in Art Therapy. Linköping University Press.