Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why Art Therapy?

If you are not familiar with the expressive arts, you might ask, Why art therapy? Why not just go to a therapist and talk my problems out? Or, How is making art really going to help me solve my problems, ease my pain and/or find solutions to my problems? First, I'm really glad you're asking these questions. I've heard a few people say they don't like attaching the word therapy to art. That art is art and therapy is therapy. And, there is art for arts sake. I would like to mention the possible added benefits of taking part in art-making. For instance, is art-making relaxing? Does art-making allow you to tap into your memory? Does art-making allow you to make sense out of your life? OK, so now we are beginning to tread in the waters of art therapy, where the process of art-making can provide greater insight into our lives, our relationships, our pain, our thoughts and feelings. Where, it's not about how good you draw, or how perfect your interpretation of a feeling is, it's about getting the feeling out on paper; it's about the process not the product. Though, it is beneficial to process the product and the art-making experience. So, why art therapy? In the case of using art with children, I find that children gravitate towards tasks and experiences that are imaginative, fun and creative much easier than talking about what is on their mind. Their art becomes a hands on experience to express what is on inside their heads and in their hearts. They might not have the words, but art can provide an outlet for feelings and thoughts that they might not have access to. Here on the blank page, they can get their anger, sadness, and frustrations out. With adults, art therapy works pretty much the same way. Not only is it a place to get feelings out, it can provide a relaxing experience where calm can bring on insight, reflection and access to deep feelings. Images can mirror back to the individual something they had previously not thought about. A collage picture might trigger a memory or thought that can be processed. There are many studies that show that by using imagery, direct access to the emotional brain takes place much quicker and easier than language alone. If the voice of perfection is alive and well inside a person, we can explore it as it speaks and develop a new healthy voice to respond to it with.
Feel free to contact me for more information on art therapy and how and where it is used and its benefits.