What is Clinical Art Therapy?
The “Art” in Art Therapy is simply another way to:
- Express your self.
- Explore and process your troubles
- Experience a cathartic release of tension
- Find answers, resolution and peace
Research has shown Art Therapy to be a powerful therapeutic tool for helping families, couples, adults, adolescents and children. Clinical Art Therapists are trained in all of the traditional talk therapy approaches and create individualized art directives based on the client’s issue at hand.
How Does It Work?
- Senses: As marketing and sales people know, symbols and metaphors are powerful emotional tools. We understand our world and ourselves through our senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell). We remember what happened through those senses. Art helps us capture and examine those memories directly.
- Distance Diffuses: When a serious conflict arises it can be difficult to control our anger, see both sides of the story and find solutions. When people in conflict are looking together at a drawing of the problem, side by side as a team with the assistance of a clinical art therapist, the situation is diffused. Perspective is gained and solutions to problems can be found.
- Trauma: The brain has a way of protecting us from thoughts that make us upset. Adults have strong verbal filters that screen critical information. However, when we are trying to figure out why we feel, sick, depressed, scared of stressed, these filters can get in the way. The art brings critical break through understanding, direction, solutions, forgiveness, and relief by directly accessing different parts of the brain that verbal processing can not.
- No Words: Sometimes there simply aren’t words to describe the pain we feel. Art can provide a way of expressing our innermost thoughts and feelings that talking simply can’t.
- Cathartic Externalization: Have you heard the expression “let go and let god?” There is much in this world that we are not in control of; people, places and things that cause pain. We put and release this pain into the art.
- Visualizing Success: Athletes are trained to imagine them selves making the shot. Using art to concretize our goals, affirmations and mantras markets our healing goals to our minds.
- Children and Families: Telling the story of a problem indirectly through art metaphors creates safety and trust. It is easier to talk about a cat getting into mischief and needing help than staring directly at each other, pointing fingers and saying “you did it.”
You don’t need to be an artist: The art is a tool, not a product.
The art process is what heals and the uglier and the messier the better.
This is not about making pretty pictures.
Art Therapy Resources:
- American Art Therapy Association website: http://www.arttherapy.org/
- Art Therapy Blog: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/what-is-art-therapy/
- Art Therapy Credentials Board: http://www.atcb.org/what_is_art_therapy/
- International Art Therapy Organization: http://www.internationalarttherapy.org/whatisarttherapy.html