The inside-outside box is a cognitive directive and is used in many different situations. The reason that this is a cognitive directive is because the inside-out focuses on helping the client recognize the good and bad in their life and separate them. This directive is fairly versatile but is best for those who have suffered trauma or loss. The client can use a wide variety of materials, such as magazine clippings, colored pencils, paint, etc.
Many times for this directive, the client will put the positive aspects inside the box and the negativity to be on the outside, but it can go either way. When doing this directive, the client may focus on their anxieties. So on the outside of the box, they could decorate it with things that make them anxious and/or scared leading to feelings of distress. Then on the inside they could put things that make them feel safe do that the inside represents a safe space. Another example is that the outside of the box could represent who a client feels they are, but on the inside is who they are striving to become. This directive idea of improving yourself can be used in prison art therapy.
The inside-outside box can be used in many more instances and situations. When doing this directive with a client, the art therapist has to take into consideration whether the client should make their own box or if they should use one that has already been made, such as a cardboard box. The reason is because with some client’s, if they can’t make the box perfectly then they get frustrated and actually will be unable to complete their inside-outside box. This is a fantastic directive and is very therapeutic.