What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is an approach to therapy, in which the use of creative mediums is prompted, encouraged, and facilitated during therapy sessions. By utilizing art interventions and the creative process, the client is able to experience healing in a number of ways.
About Art Therapy
I believe we are all creative in unique ways, and tapping into this creativity provides many benefits, including overall health and wellness enhancement, self-awareness, emotional processing, and feelings of pride and happiness. Art Therapy is for any age. Furthermore, one does not need to have any training in art to participate in Art Therapy, and the purpose of Art Therapy is not necessarily about the final product; instead, it is about the creation of the artwork and the process of viewing and processing it without criticism but with gentle and compassionate eyes. Having an open and flexible attitude allows room for understanding, growth, and learning.
The Benefits of Art Therapy
The Process: The mere process of making art is often therapeutic. Giving yourself or a loved one the gift of making art in a nurturing and supportive environment is highly meaningful.
Reaching the Subconscious: By engaging in art making, individuals are often able to gain access into their subconscious. At times, these realizations become apparent during sessions. Also, many people experience the continued significance of their artwork as a “living” piece after it is created, finding more meaning in time.
Kinesthetic Activity: Art making may include small movements or more large and pronounced markings. Additionally, art making provides a tactile experience, whether this includes use of clay, paint, or pencils. Many individuals thrive developmentally and learn more effectively while engaging in movement and sensory experiences, which are provided by Art Therapy.
Linking the Left Brain and Right Brain: Science has demonstrated that the left brain is most responsible for our language and logic skills, while the right brain harnesses creativity and imagination. Art Therapy engages both the right and left sides of the brain, making it possible for people to experience a sense of cohesion and deeper understanding of thoughts and feelings, while also enhancing creative problem-solving skills.
Nonverbal Communication: Verbal communication does not often suffice in our search to explain. This is especially true for those who have experienced trauma and do not have adequate words to describe what happened. Particularly for children, verbal communication may be lacking, which can lead to frustration when trying to communicate and/or the repression of feelings for which the child has no words to express. Art has been a means of communication since the beginning of time, and Art Therapy allows a person to participate in more than just "talk" therapy.
Relaxation and Meditation: Art making is calming for many individuals, and may be coupled with meditation in therapy. I often lead clients in guided imagery to find focus and relaxation before, during, or after art making. Creating art is a healthy and pro-active coping mechanism to enhance relaxation and reflection.
Imagination: Many individuals find their lives so busy and task-oriented, that they forget to use their imaginations. Imagination may also be thwarted by traumatic events, which can severely impact development and the ability to cope, especially in children. Art Therapy is rooted in the exploration of the imagination.
Who Can Participate in Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is an effective treatment option for children, adolescents, adults, and families. You do not need to consider yourself “an artist” in order to participate in Art Therapy. Many people engage freely in artistic expression as children, but stop making art after their school years. Art Therapy is process-oriented, and not necessarily about the finished artwork that is produced.
Art Therapy at Mosaic Art Therapy
My education includes an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, as well as a Master’s level specialization in Art Therapy. By combining traditional psychotherapy approaches, along with Art Therapy, I focus on the specific needs of the client and family. As such, Art Therapy may entail more open and exploratory approaches at times, or may involve directed art interventions to address specific symptoms. I begin sessions with a focus, and adapt to the client’s needs throughout the session. In this way, Art Therapy is about the experience and founded on the client’s involvement in the process. I encourage regular discussion of the purpose of Art Therapy interventions, and to process the experience of the client and/or family. I understand the desire to know if various forms of therapy, such as Art Therapy, will be effective for you or your loved one. As with any type of therapy, I cannot guarantee a particular outcome. However, I can state with the utmost confidence that participating in Art Therapy is an opportunity to experience deep healing and foster change.
Art Therapy Sessions
During therapy sessions, we will address topics as therapeutically appropriate and sometimes spend time talking during art-making, after, and/or before. Some people do not prefer to talk during art-making, and others like to, so we will determine your personal preference. Additionally, some people do not like to be watched closely while they create, as it may make them feel judged or uncomfortable. We will also determine what is best for your experience.
Sometimes I will have art “directives” prepared to use during the session based on what we are working on in therapy. Other times, I may wait for the direction to become apparent during the session. Either way, you have full control over what art you create and what direction you choose to go. This process is completely for you and your path, so please feel free to communicate whatever “flow” you are in creatively, and allow this to be the guide as appropriate.
My role is not to judge or interpret your artwork. My role is to respect your artwork and the messages it has for you, and guide and support you in deriving meaning and understanding on your own terms. With that said, I do have training in noticing certain symbols, colors, or images that may infer different meanings, and I will use this expertise to explore these topics with you. I will ask questions, make observations, and partner with you in wondering and noticing. I will provide a variety of materials during sessions, and if there is a particular material you enjoy using, please let me know and I will do my best to incorporate in into sessions.
To enhance your Art Therapy experience, I recommend keeping an art journal to write, draw, paint, collage, etc. in between sessions. This may include topics we’ve addressed in sessions, challenges or revelations that have come up during the week, dreams, and really anything that you’re compelled to include. You can purchase affordable art journals at Michaels Arts and Crafts or other art stores.
At Mosaic Art Therapy, I provide a range of therapeutic services, including individual counseling for children, adolescents, and adults. Although I specialize in Art Therapy, I offer therapy without the use of art and have training and experience in many forms of treatment.
I offer a creative and customized approach to therapy services to meet each client's individual needs. This may include specialized Art Therapy and collaboration with teachers or medical providers, such as psychiatrists, if needed.