Art therapy helps children, adolescents, and adults externalize and explore feelings in a visual way by using various art materials. A client’s artwork is a guide for understanding their inner thoughts and emotions, and can foster wellness, healing and personal growth.
Art therapy does not require a background in visual arts; I’ve found this to be one of the biggest misconceptions! In my experience, most of my clients have not picked up art materials since grade school. Many of my adult clients tell me they aren’t creative, and initially come to me for traditional talk psychotherapy. I encourage my clients to engage in art-making when they feel ready.
Some of the art materials used in sessions include: crayons, pens, markers, colored pencils, watercolor, and collage materials.
It is important to keep in mind that art therapy is about the process— not the product! My goal is to create a safe space for my clients to be creative without fear of judgement. I believe the process of art-making can deepen our therapeutic work together, and facilitate nonverbal communication if and when words are difficult to find.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
It may be helpful to use art-making to explore difficult and complex feelings. This process allows the client to create a safe distance between herself and what is being explored. The use of metaphor in art therapy is powerful and helps clients feel safe in working on vulnerable feelings, emotions and experiences.
Many people assume that I interpret my clients’ artwork— this is not true. The images they create are unique to their own individuality. I’m here to give direction when needed, and navigate through the artwork alongside my client.
My role is to reveal important insights to my clients through their imagery and symbols, and help them find inner wisdom and deeper knowledge of themselves.
For more information about creative arts therapy, please visit The American Art Therapy Association.