Since 2008, I have co-facilitated workshops in the community, and conducted research with ‘body-mapping’. Body mapping is a visual, participatory, therapeutic arts research method that involves having one’s body traced, then drawing and writing about any cognitive, emotional, or physical experiences, in and around the body map (de Jager, Tewson, Ludlow, & Boydell, 2016).
To-date, I have co-facilitated four workshops at: the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape (June 2008), The Art Gallery of Ontario (October 2012), and The Creative Works Studio at St. Michael’s Hospital (January and April 2016). I have presented on the subject at the Social Work Beyond Borders, Social Work Artfully Workshop, in Johannesburg, South Africa (2011), and the Canadian Communication Association AGM (2015), and at invited lectures at OCAD University (2014 and 2016) and the University of Toronto (2014).
I am continuing to study this arts-informed method, and its potential with digital technology. The following are some examples of publications that grew out of this work.
Click on the titles of each piece to go directly to the articles.
Adèle de Jager, Anna Tewson, Bryn Ludlow, Katherine Boydell
The first recorded instance of whole-body-mapping for research purposes is a comparison of women’s identity and the concept of the reproductive system in rural Jamaica and the UK. It was later developed in a structured workshop process in South Africa to give voice to the experiences of HIV positive individuals, decrease stigma, and advocate for provision of anti-retroviral medication. Whole-body mapping involves tracing around a person’s body to create a life-sized outline, which is filled in during a creative and reflective process, producing an image representing multiple aspects of their embodied experience. Body-mapping holds promise as a qualitative, participatory research method to produce and disseminate knowledge. However, it is unclear how it is being used, by whom, and in what context. This article presents the findings of a systematic review of body-mapping in the published literature. The review identifies various implementations of body-mapping in research, therapeutic, and educational contexts. The degree of emphasis on social justice, knowledge translation, research, and therapeutic benefit varies a great deal, as does the intent and use of body-mapping. While body-mapping holds promise, more empirical investigation would be valuable in determining its characteristics in research, clinical, educative and political spheres.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Witnessing: Creating Visual Research Memos About Patient Experiences of Body Mapping in a Dialysis Unit
These works were created in response to my experiences of facilitating 12 body mapping sessions with 5 geriatric inpatients who were receiving daily (6 days/week) hemodialysis therapy for end-stage renal disease at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute in 2012. The research was part of my Master of Arts thesis research study at McMaster University.1 I became interested in studying this population following nearly 5 years of volunteering at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute with geriatric inpatients.
Body mapping with geriatric inpatients receiving daily haemodialysis therapy for end-stage renal disease at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute: A qualitative study
Master of Arts Thesis (2010–2012), McMaster University
The innovative research method of “body mapping” was used in this study with geriatric inpatients receiving daily hæmodialysis therapy for end-stage renal disease at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.
Five people took part in this study; three participants completed all study phases. They created three body maps each and took part in one follow up, semi-structured interview to share their experiences of body mapping. Two themes were drawn from the data: (1) body mapping gives patients a voice to communicate their experiences in the dialysis unit; and (2) body mapping makes visible participants’ illness adjustment patterns, and levels of connection, or disconnection in the dialysis unit.
Based on the ways body mapping benefitted participants in this study, it is reasonable to suggest that this visual communication tool could be useful in other research settings, and as a clinical tool to support patients’ attention to their bodies and their interactions with healthcare providers.