Art therapy is a wonderful practice that focuses on the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, colouring, or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art.
With the guidance of a qualified art therapist, clients can “decode” the nonverbal messages, symbols, and metaphors often found in these art forms, which should lead to a better understanding of their feelings and behaviour so they can move on to resolve deeper issues.
Art therapy helps adults and children to explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with a physical illness or disability.
Art therapists work either on a one-to-one basis or in groups. No artistic talent is necessary for art therapy to succeed, because the therapeutic process is not about the artistic value of the work, but rather about finding associations between the creative choices made and a client’s inner life. The artwork can be used as a springboard for reawakening memories and telling stories that may reveal messages and beliefs from the unconscious mind.
Art therapy is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking deeper understanding of themselves and their personalities. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapists are trained to understand the roles that colour, texture, and various art media can play in the therapeutic process and how these tools can help reveal a person’s thoughts, feelings, and psychological disposition. Art therapy integrates psychotherapy and some form of visual arts as a specific, stand-alone form of therapy, but it is also used in combination with other types of therapy.
Your first session, as with many other therapies, will consist of you talking with the therapist about why you are looking for help, and the therapist will explain they they can suggest to help.
Together, you will come up with a treatment plan that involves creating some form of artwork. Once you begin creating, the therapist may, observe your process as you work, without interference or judgement. When you have finished a piece of artwork—and sometimes while you are still working on it—the therapist will ask you questions along the lines of how you feel about the artistic process, what was easy or difficult about creating your artwork, and what thoughts or memories you may have had while you were working.
Generally, the therapist will ask about your experience and feelings before providing any observations.
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