being mindful of our internal images and body sensations can take us down new paths, back through the barriers to ourselves
What is Art Psychotherapy?
Art Therapy is a type of Psychotherapy that can help express your emotions through using a combination of art making and talking rather than talking alone. This takes the pressure off having to ‘talk’ and moves you more into a place where your unconscious communication takes the lead.
Art materials are used as a way to help bring feelings to the surface. You do not have to use the materials: sometimes we can just talk. Don’t be put off by the word ‘art’, I think of myself as more a creative counsellor so you don’t need to be good at art, or to be able to draw, and art skills are not taught.
Who can it help?
Absolutely anyone! Emotions can feel confusing at times for everybody. Art Therapy can help untangle your difficulties and gain some understanding to what feels messy. I can work with children, adolescents and adults, all benefiting for different reasons. I pay special attention to building a trusting relationship and always go at the client’s pace. I want to know what it’s really like to be them.
Children are naturally creative and it is encouraged at school and at home (hopefully). This means ‘art’ and using the materials isn’t a new thing to do so we find an easy way of communicating with each other through image and play. Their defence barriers don’t even exist yet (or are new) so they can be a very open and honest group of little people to work with.
Adolescents are in the flux of life so I find they can work through issues using creativity faster than just talking. Having that pressure to talk and that attention on them, especially if they’ve had therapy before can be too much. I create a non judgmental space for them to just be which is crucial at this age. Although I work at their pace, I find setting goals or being more directive is welcomed as they are used to this at school/college. This can give a visual record of progress to look back and feel the changes instead of just talking about them.
As for adults, using images in therapy is useful if you are a logical person who is maybe stuck in a ‘left-brain’ way of working. If you’ve had talking therapy before and keep ‘hitting a wall’ then a new way can be found to reach your unconscious feelings and really make sense of them. We have created so many defenses by adulthood; there can be many layers to dive down through to get to how you actually feel. We can spend years assuming we know our emotions, when sometimes these emotions have been disguised as others to protect us earlier in life. Once we become more mindful, we can see new ways through these barriers to our true selves. Noticing body sensations or any aches and pains can encourage more awareness of ‘blockages’ instead of assuming they are only physical.
Some of the issues I have supported people to explore include: anxiety, death and bereavement, sexuality, spirituality, eating disorders, relationships, self worth, addiction and childhood abuse.