Because Art Therapy is a fairly new approach to mental and emotional wellness, many people are not quite sure what it is. Consequently, people have several questions and curiosities, which I will hopefully answer for you here!
Art Therapy Definition
Art Therapy is a creative form of therapy using art to enhance mental and emotional health.
Why Art Therapy?
Art Therapy provides the opportunity to participate in counseling without feeling the pressure of having to sit on a couch and delve into often sensitive and emotional subjects. By using a creative approach to therapy, self-expression becomes much more than just words. And, one of the best parts of the process is that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to express yourself in an Art Therapy session. Whatever you create is an extension of you – representing your thoughts and feelings. Art therapy is not a class, nor is there any judgment about the process or finished product.
Do I Need to be Artistic?
I often hear, “I’m not artistic” or “can’t draw.” But, being a traditionally considered “artist” is not at all necessary for participating in Art Therapy. I strongly believe that each person is creative in his or her own way, and tapping into your imagination and creative self is an ideal path towards healing and wellness. Furthermore, Art Therapy is not merely drawing. In fact, many forms of Art Therapy do not include drawing at all. Collage, clay, photography, and painting are all creative forms used in Art Therapy. Each person has a particular preference of art materials that he/she finds therapeutic.
Art as Therapy
For many people, the sole process of creating is therapeutic, which is how the modality of Art Therapy first began. Most people can identify what they find therapeutic in their lives – whether it is being in nature, horseback riding, running, or cooking. These activities are refreshing, nourishing, relaxing, and joyful, and making art meets these needs for many people.
Art in Therapy
Art in therapy is the collaborative mixture of art making and therapy. As a trained Art Therapist with a Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy, I approach therapy sessions with both traditional psychotherapy theories and innovative Art Therapy techniques. In my opinion, one of the most crucial aspects of therapy is an emotionally safe, nonjudgmental, and supportive environment, which I always aim to provide. This environment is important for Art Therapy to ensure that you are comfortable creating and opening up in sessions. Making art in therapy can provide healing, catharsis, access to the subconscious, insight, understanding, acceptance, and encouragement for change.
The Next Step
Interested in Art Therapy for yourself or a loved one? I would love to hear your questions and thoughts about Art Therapy! Please feel free to contact me via email, blog, or phone for more information or to schedule an Art Therapy session.
Mandi Baughman, Registered Art Therapist and MFT Intern