WHAT IS ART THERAPY?
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes the creative arts as a means to express and communicate feelings and thoughts that are difficult to put into words. The client may be encouraged to use tools they are familiar with or to explore new media; paints, pastels, crayons, clay, collage, music, movement and dance, symbols and sand.
The artwork created provides:
a way of understanding what is going on for the client;
a mirror to see the self more clearly,
a means to release painful emotions and then
to make more informed choices of how to respond to situations.
The use of the creative arts enables access to memory stored in the feeling part of the brain, often hidden away because the psyche is unable to deal with it at the time of the experience. The process of Creating provides a window of opportunity to reach the stored memory, work with it and release it to the conscious self to digest, understand and then choose what to do with it.
Art therapy is not about creating a masterpiece to hang on a wall. It is a focus to use for greater understanding. Hopefully there is some fun as part of the process. Art therapy may be regarded as a less threatening way to work with challenge.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
A safe space is created in which the therapist acts as companion to the client, co creating, reflecting, being present to the client and their experience. Together challenges are explored, experiences unpacked until there is a sense of meaning arrived at.
Sessions are an hour to an hour and a half in duration.
The process may even be considered as play. Many of us have not used art materials since childhood but enjoy using colour, texture and making a mess in a “legitimate” way. Play is a wonderful way to release energy, to explore ideas, to try things on, to see things with a different lens. It is also a great way to learn.
HOW IS ART THERAPY USED?
Art therapy can be used for personal growth, grief and loss, in response to trauma experienced, to work with challenging emotions and behaviours, relationship issues, family patterns.
Arts therapy may be used with individuals, families and groups. It is a flexible modality suited to use across the life cycle from childhood to old age.