Art therapy combines counselling, psychotherapy and art making in a safe therapeutic setting to enhance emotional, physical, and mental health.
Sometimes we can’t think (or talk) our way out of a problem. We have to step out of our logical thinking; stop the intellectualized loops and step into something different. Making art helps us discover parts of ourselves we never knew existed. Through the process of art making and with the guidance of a qualified art therapist, we can unlock new possibilities.
This modality requires the active participation of the individual to create an image that can be used to initiate a verbal exchange. Clients are guided to reflect on the art product and the process to increase awareness of self and others and support problem solving, leading them to their full potential.
“Through the use of art-making, discussions and reflections on the artwork, and relationship building, art therapists support individuals in problem-solving, developing insights and self-awareness, improving self esteem, managing stress, and enhancing interpersonal skills” (American Art Therapy Association, 2017).
The Effectiveness of Art Therapy
“Research supporting art therapy exists. Art therapy outcome research with diverse populations continues to be published in different academic journals in art therapy, psychology, psychotherapy, counseling, special populations, art education, etc. The American Art Therapy Association Research Committee has created a Research Outcome Bibliography on outcome and single-subject studies in art therapy to support the practice of art therapy through providing empirical evidence of its use” (Canadian Art Therapy Association, 2020).
No experience with art or art materials is needed.
Art Therapy Can Help With
- Stress and Burnout
- Grief and Loss
- Interpersonal issues: violence, abuse, social isolation
- Family dynamics
- Identity exploration
- and more….
Who Does Art Therapy Serve?
Art therapy is a shared journey. Client and therapist work together to create positive change. Within the safe space of art therapy, a client finds meaning in images. The holding space provides the emphatic response to what the client has expressed creatively. In this way, the therapeutic relationship can have a lasting effect for clients who have suffered interpersonal trauma and neglect (Malchiodi, 2003a).
Adolescence is a stage of development with unique difficulties that makes psychotherapy very complex. Many of the struggles experienced by the adolescent involve conflicts of identity and self-expression. These conflicts can be made accessible for exploration through art productions in a way that they cannot through verbal expression. The youngster’s developmentally appropriate defenses tend to block insight-oriented verbal psychotherapy. Art therapy can help the adolescent master and utilize the very struggles that prevents him/ her from participation in traditional psychotherapy (Linesch, 1988, p. ix).
Children use imagery, colour and shape to communicate thoughts and feelings that would otherwise be difficult to articulate. “The art therapy studio is a safe place where the child can decide on the art materials to use, the concept to create and the subject matter to talk about. Independence, self-regulation and confidentiality are emphasized” (Canadian Art Therapy Association, 2020).
How Can Art Therapy Benefit Children?
- Psychosocial support
- Assist in coping with physical health conditions such as cancer
- Decrease loneliness and social isolation
- Increase relaxation
- Reduce anxiety and agitation
- Build interpersonal skills, and increase meaningful and positive interaction with family and friends
- Increase self-awareness and self-discovery
- Build positive coping skills
- Promote freedom of choice, sense of achievement, and sense of mastery, thus increasing self-esteem
American Art Therapy Association (2015).