A lot of people ask what is Art Therapy and how is it different from making art? Well, in the simplest terms Art Therapy is like any other therapy cognitive behaviour therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy. All which aim to support people through emotional and psychological difficulties. These therapies are based on the relationship between a therapist and a client and are geared towards achieving therapeutic goals, whatever that may be the thing about art therapy is that in this process clients can harness the creative power of art and making art.
And it’s interesting because art is like a wordless story it enables peoples to express themselves and often find words to things that they couldn’t put words to before. In Art Therapy, the focus is on the process of art making, not the art itself.
So, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at making art, it is more about how it makes you feel and the process of making it and the insights you gain from the creation process. It is a language of self-exploration and it can reveal things even in the lines, shapes and colours that you use so when you consider everyone’s creative, really Art Therapy can be for anyone. Art Therapists, unlike what some people think or movies like Parasite might suggest we don’t make judgements about peoples art that’s really something for the individual to make sense of.
Rather, we are trying to encourage clients to explore their own internal state through art making to reveal things that make sense to them for their own meaning. So, really what we do is we encourage them to think about the lines, the shapes, the colours the effective of making the art has on them and identify ways forward that feel right for their own situation.
Art Therapy is a powerful health enhancing treatment and it’s widely used for a range of mental health issues evidence of it’s benefits range from supporting psychological distress to emotional dysregulation, from supporting recovery from grief or PTSD and even for dementia and addictions.