Art therapy is a mental health practice that uses art materials and the creative process to explore emotions, reduce stress/anxiety and increase self esteem/self worth. It has also been seen to help individuals move through and resolve other psychological conflicts. Art therapists are trained to lead people through the art making in a therapeutic manner creating deeper and more meaningful experiences than just simply drawing. Art therapists offer art-based therapy interventions that are tailored to the needs of the patient.
Art therapy has been used with people who are struggling with addictions, anxiety, attention disorders, grief and loss, dementia, depression, eating disorder, developmental disabilities, physical illness, PTSD, trauma, relationship issues and many other populations as stated by The American Art Therapy Association. When participating in art therapy the focus is on the process and not the final product, this takes the pressure off the idea of becoming a great artist or needing to be artistic prior and allows the client to find meaning and connection in their life through expression. This can be beneficial to those who may feel overwhelmed by solely traditional therapy. Studies also show that when clients participate in art therapy dopamine is released which can be very effective to any of the populations stated above. All you need for this type of therapy is a willingness to experiment. With this openness a client can experience great insights and healing.
Art therapy can include a wide range of art materials and processes. Sessions could potentially include activities such as working with clay, painting, making a mask, creating a visual journal, and assembling a collage. Some sessions the client may continue to work on a work of art from the prior session and other times they will work on a completely new piece of art , however finishing the art is not needed as the process/expression is the main focus of the therapy. When creating art the artwork will always belong to the client. Some people choose to keep the artwork, while others may decide to leave it in the care of the art therapist. Your art will be safe and not shown to anyone without your permission. Art therapists use art materials and directives to activate various responses that are directly connected to emotions. The art process helps one to re-experience emotions in a way that allows them to organize their feelings and form a narrative around an overwhelming experience. This will help facilitate communication around these topics. At this point in the session the art therapy will integrate more traditional therapies such as psychotherapy, CBT etc. possible. Both traditional therapy and art therapy are used together in sessions in order to reach the goal of gaining personal insight, self-awareness, and new coping strategies that promote an improved level of functioning and quality of life .
If you feel yourself or your child could benefit from art therapy, give our office a call. Check out our resident Art Therapist, Sarah Cupka‘s, bio and request to meet with Sarah when you call to schedule.