“If you get out of the way, the art will express itself !”
Why Art Therapy?
Art therapy can be used as a remarkable tool, almost like a window or gateway into a person’s subconscious mind. It’s a fabulous non-threatening way to sneak past one’s defenses, walls and cognitive roadblocks. The cool part is that art therapy is not restricted to painting and expressing with colours on paper. Art can also involve movement and expression through psychodrama and other bodywork, therefore what comes out is unfiltered, unadulterated and holds invaluable information for client and counsellor.
1. Art Therapy Provides Safety
I frequently use art with my clients to help them express and say things they might not always have the words to articulate. Difficult feelings, sad events, confusion, clarity – so much can be explored and reconciled through colour, art and movement. Clients are often surprised how much they can express and let out in ways they didn’t imagine they could before simply because the process is non-threatening and makes one feel safe to explore.
2. Art Therapy Is Creative
Often times I give my more adventurous clients a huge white sheet and lots of paints and just let them express how they feel, whether it’s rage or fear or confusion or hope and strength they let it all pour out on the sheet and then we have the most insightful conversations about the artwork. The creative process makes difficult issues that much easier to pour out.
3. Art Therapy Helps With Abstract Concepts
There are times when clients struggle with issues like anger or fear or even emotions they cannot name or describe. Some times clients do not even want to articulate things that have happened to them. Art therapy provides a way to make difficult concrete issues, events and feelings abstract using symbolism so they are easier to confront, process and talk about.
4. Art Therapy Engages The Right Brain
The creativity involved helps clients get in touch and use their right brain where all the emotions are stored. Naturally, this helps the processing of emotions in a deeper more complete way.
5. Art Therapy Is Perfect When Processing Trauma
Creating art helps release trauma that is stored in the body by helping the body release what has been stored for so long. The body remembers what the mind does not! When clients have finished a session typically they feel lighter, happier and walk away with more clarity, having moved on from the place they were stuck.
There is freedom in art, the wide strokes of a brush or palette knife, the feel of paint in between your fingers, there is freedom in the colours, there is freedom in movement. There is freedom because there is expression and understanding.
Art therapy is not about making something pretty, knowing how to move or being good at art, its about the freedom of expression and hence the space for the discovery of hidden aspects of yourself.
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