Expressive art in cross-cultural group supervision : applying the MmogoTM method
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This article explores the value of the use of expressive art in cross-cultural supervision. Due to globalisation and escalating international mobility, universities are becoming increasingly multi-cultural. This poses a challenge to the supervisor who has to assist students in personal and professional growth, particularly considering that various culturally embedded intra-psychic, interpersonal and situational processes and dynamics can influence students' preconceived ideas, expectations and anxiety about supervision. People are often only vaguely aware of the cultural underpinnings of their experiences and may struggle to find words to express their feelings and experiences. Language differences and the difference in the meanings ascribed to experiences due to different cultural backgrounds add to the challenge. Efficient communication is essential for a good supervisor-supervisee relationship. In order for the supervisor to gain insight into the intra-psychic as well as the interpersonal experiences that inform personal and professional growth, an alternative method of communication needs to be explored that will enable the participants to give words to difficult processes. Various projective techniques, such as expressive art, could be used as an alternative form of communication. Art can serve as a narrative that reflects interpersonal and intrapersonal processes. Fourteen individuals, from an African background, participated in the research, thirteen Tswana speaking women from Botswana and a male Tshivenda individual from Venda, with an age range between 25 and 45. The participants registered with the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, where supervisors are mainly endorsing Westernised and individual values. The participants attended lectures regarding: active listening and communication skills; facilitating counselling processes; and dealing with specific manifestations of the helping relationship. They engaged with community-based institutions that offered practical implementation of their theoretical knowledge. The students also engaged in weekly supervision with the lecturers at the university. A qualitative, case-study approach by means of the Mmogo™method was used in order to gain insight into the world of human experience and behaviour from the subjective experiences of the participants. This method values the symbolic, contextual groundedness of meaning and provides valuable information regarding social and interpersonal aspects embedded in relationships. Participants were asked to create visual representations that would illustrate any aspect of their growth since the beginning of the year. After the presentations had been made, the participants engaged in focus group discussions. Data gathered from the visual representations, as well as verbal accounts, were analysed by means of semiotic data analysis. This is an inductive form of analysis that begins with detailed observation and explanation of the presentations, and then continues towards deductions and abstract generalisations about the representation. This is done by means of denotation and connotation. The aim of the research was two-fold. Firstly, this research aimed to explore the themes that emerged in a cross-cultural supervision relationship. Secondly, this research explored the possible value of the use of expressive art, which is referred to as the Mmogo™method, in cross-cultural group supervision. Central themes that emerged from the data suggested that participants transfer culturally embedded values and norms to their new learning environment. It further elicited valuable information regarding aspects that could play a significant role in personal and professional development. These aspects include: the nature of interaction between the individual and the community; the needs and requirements of the community in order to be conducive to growth; and also the growth needs and requirements of the individual. With regards to the use of the Mmogo™method, it has provided a valuable means of eliciting rich information that would not necessarily be shared in normal familiar one-on-one conversations.
- Humanities