What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is an alternative form of therapy which utilizes painting, drawing or modeling. Instead of solely talking about their problems, clients are given materials to help them express their emotions through art. It is a creative method used as a therapeutic technique and involves both art and psychotherapy.
What is the difference between Talk Therapy and Art Therapy?
The main difference between art therapy and talk therapy is the former’s predominant usage of art over speech. For those who don’t want to analyze their lives verbally, art therapy gives clients another option. Many times, drawings from clients are related to what could be otherwise be talked about in session, as art itself can be used to convey one’s emotions, thoughts and observations.
For whom is Art Therapy for?
All genders are welcome to art therapy. Though the age ranges from 6 and 90 years old, it is most beneficial to the individuals who are able to comprehend, respond to and use art materials.
What are the benefits?
Art Therapy can help children, adolescents and adults explore and understand their feelings. Additionally, it can also help manage/reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and cope with physical or mental disabilities, which can in turn improve self-esteem. Art Therapy has also been proven to be effective for Alzheimer’s disease, as it stimulates the senses and can bring back dormant memories. The benefits vary depending on the clients’ goals and expectations.
What supplies are used?
Most art therapists have a wide range of art supplies because each material produces a different outcome depending on the issue at hand. Choosing the right medium to work with then becomes a critical component of the process.
Common supplies are acrylic (tempura for children because it is non toxic) and watercolor paint. For those who want more control with their art, there is also the diverse selection of handheld instruments, such as pencils, crayons, markers, oil pastels, and charcoal pens. Clay and plasticine are used when individuals prefer using their hands for pieces that involve sculpting rather than drawing. Other mediums such as collaging, photography, and textiles can also be used; it simply depends on what the therapist has on hand.
How can Art be therapeutic?
When someone undergoes a traumatic event, the memory gets stored in the right side of the brain, which controls creativity and art-related tasks. Talk therapy can be challenging when the individual doesn’t have the words to explain what happened, this allows art therapists to create a safe space for their clients to express themselves through art-making rather than speaking.
During this process, the therapist observes their clients behavior, actions and facial expressions. Are they releasing their feelings? Are they becoming angry or distressed? Are they happy? By expressing themselves creatively, some clients feel a sense of relief, having channeled their emotions into the art. Following the creation period, the therapist then discusses the finished piece. Potential talking points include what the art is, what it means to them, why they chose the colors, how it made them feel etc.
Art therapy is still a relatively new profession globally, so it will be interesting to see how it expands and evolves as it reaches new countries and cultures.
Reflection of Artwork
Art Therapy is a method which focuses on the process rather than the end product. After a client is finished with a piece, the therapist and client examine it together, studying what colors were used, what shapes or objects are involved and what story it tells.
However, it is important to note that the art therapist does not become a psychic who tells the client their problems and how to fix them. Instead, the therapist and client observe the piece together and discuss themes and metaphors hidden within the art.
Every color contains meaning, every shape and design a different importance; together, the pair work to understand these factors within the artwork and accept its place in the client’s life. At the end of the session (depending on the client’s goals and expectations), the client usually has a better understanding of themselves, their emotions and why things happen in certain situations.
To find her work on Instagram @taishatealart @artherapytaisha