What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art as a way to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
This therapeutic approach combines traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques with an understanding of the psychological aspects of the creative process, especially the affective properties of the different art materials.
How Does Art Work in Therapy?
In art therapy, clients embark on self-expression through creative means. One of the foundational steps is understanding the concept of a “medium.” This refers to the materials clients use to create, be it paints, pencils, clay, or collage elements.
For a therapy client, the choice of medium isn’t merely about the material itself. It reflects their emotional state and is a means to convey their innermost feelings and thoughts, giving them a tangible way to explore and process their experiences.
Mediums in Art Therapy
There are various mediums used in art therapy, such as painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage. Each medium offers a unique tactile experience and can evoke different emotions and memories in the individual.
For instance, painting with watercolours can be a soothing experience, while sculpting with clay can be more hands-on, allowing individuals to physically mould and shape their emotions.
Artworks created during therapy sessions can reflect an individual’s inner world.
They can represent suppressed emotions, unresolved traumas, aspirations, and hopes. The act of creating can be therapeutic in itself, offering a safe space for expression and exploration.
How Does Art Therapy Work?
During art therapy sessions, individuals work with a trained art therapist who provides guidance and support. The therapist might offer prompts or themes to explore or allow the individual to create freely.
The therapist and the individual will then discuss the artwork, exploring its symbolism, the choice of colours and materials, and the emotions evoked during the creation process.
Benefits of Art Therapy
Art therapy offers numerous benefits. It provides a non-verbal outlet for expression, which can be especially beneficial for those who struggle to articulate their feelings.
The process of creating can also be meditative, offering a respite from daily stresses. Furthermore, art therapy can help individuals process traumatic events, improve self-esteem, and develop better self-awareness.