“Psychotherapy is a profoundly creative process through which the stuff of a person’s life is molded, pounded, caressed, coloured and choreographed into a new form. Monsters are tamed, victims become heroes, shadows are illuminated and fears re embraced, thereby transforming chaos to order“.

~ Bruce Moon (Art & Soul 1997) 

About Art Therapy

When words “fail”, “get in the way” or “are not enough”… sometimes you can “picture it” and the picture indeed “paints a thousand words.”

As art therapists, we would sometimes ask our clients, “What is the feeling like? Does it have a colour? A shape? Can you show me?”. No two pictures have ever been the same. Each and every individual is so unique in expression. A simple line or symbol can often tell a story and be a form of release from inner tension or confusion.

There are a few misconceptions about art therapy (also called art psychotherapy) that I would like to mention here.

  • It is not just for children. I have worked with kids as young as 4 years old and seniors in their 80s. 

  • The therapist cannot read the drawings. My goals is to support the client in creating something personal and meaningful to him/her. I work together with the client and in the process gain some insight into his or her life.

  • It is not only for people who suffer from severe trauma or mental health problems. It has also proved effective for those who perhaps are going through a life transition and would like to gain some personal insights.

  • It is not just for those who can draw. 

 

The image not only facilitates communication but allows the person creating the piece of art to access parts of him/herself that are not so easily accessible otherwise. As psychotherapists, we call this the sub-conscious or even the unconscious. And soon, what is drawn on the page, looks back at us – both the client and the therapist – and brings us into a deeper space, a sacred space ready to be gently and reverently explored and seen.

Clients often experience this approach as less threatening as it provides an indirect platform for discussion rather than addressing emotional problems in a straightforward fashion. 

Art therapy is a professional method of treatment that draws both on the principles of psychotherapy as well as the creative experience of the client to gain insight and to achieve growth, healing and integration. Engaging in art therapy helps the client get “unstuck” by releasing what they need to release and to understand and make meaning of what they seek to understand.

 

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM ART THERAPY?

 

Art therapy has proved effective as a treatment for

  • Individuals going through a life transition

  • Those seeking deeper self-awareness and insight to patterns of behaviour

  • Individuals trying to manage anxiety, stress, depression, and anger

  • Individuals trying to cope with grief and loss (e.g. illness, divorce, employment)

  • Adult and child survivors of trauma and abuse

  • Children with emotional, developmental and/or behavioural problems

  • Couples facing a breakdown in relating to each other

  • Patients and families in palliative care and/or with chronic illness

  • Eating disorder, issues with body image, addiction, psychosomatic illness

  • Mental health problems (e.g. depression)

WHAT HAPPENS IN A SESSION?

 

An art therapy session is usually an hour but this can be lengthen if more time is needed. We usually begin with a conversation and depending on the comfort, need and what is helpful, we will include making an image through drawing, painting, clay making or even sand tray. 

 

Usually a few sessions are needed to develop a foundation. This foundation of understanding, trust and openness is important for insight and change to happen. I would usually recommend weekly sessions as a start but as time passes we will see that less is needed.