Using art therapy techniques to explore home life happiness

The home plays many roles in our daily lives. It provides shelter and a place to rest. It can be viewed as an extension of the self, portraying our hopes and ideals, and where we create our identity within society1. However, contemporary homes are filled with modern appliances that offer few opportunities for creative output or experience, reducing potential for self-reflection and psychological growth. This lifestyle of high consumption and productivity does not correlate with long-term happiness2 but engagement in creativity does3. Furthermore, art creation engages the emotional centres of the brain4 so can potentially be used to investigate and enhance happiness in the home. In particular, art therapy techniques (for example, art making in silence) can be used to trigger and explore positive emotions. Also, service design approaches (for example, experience journey maps) can facilitate the conceptualisation of new experiences, including happier ones. Based in the UK, this research will therefore explore how creativity can contribute to happiness in the domestic space by using approaches from art therapy and service design. A series of workshops, comprising family homeowners and later service designers, guided by the researchers, will use techniques from these fields to investigate how home happiness might be developed/facilitated. The first of these workshops tested the use of art therapy techniques. This paper will present initial findings from this, such as creating the right context for reflective art making, facilitating emotional expression and art making with a focus on positive family time.