What is Art Therapy
Art therapy combines the creative process of art media with psychotherapy, to help participants explore and express their human experiences. Using colour, shape, line, and imagery art therapy helps folks engage with and express thoughts and feelings that may be difficult to articulate with words alone.
Art in Therapy vs. Art as Therapy
Goals of Art Therapy
The goal of art therapy is to enhance the therapeutic process by supporting folks to connect with their internal experiences (i.e. emotions, thoughts, sensations, memories etc.) in a non-verbal and creative way.
In essence, Art Therapy allows individuals to externalize and become a witness to their internal experiences. Through the combined process of art making, discussion and reflection, and relationship building, Art Therapy helps individuals with problem-solving, developing insights and self-awareness, improving self-esteem, moving through difficulties, coping with stress, and enhancing interpersonal skills.
Benefits of Art Therapy
There are many benefits to participating in counselling art therapy. Art therapy offers individuals a non-verbal way to engage with and express internal experiences (e.g. thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories etc.) that for various reasons (e.g. trauma, language, age, cognitive issues, physical health conditions etc.) my be difficult to communicate using words. There are significant benefits that can come through art-making, discussion, and reflection of artwork, including but not limited to: increased self-awareness and self-expression, connection to self and others, acceptance and agency; gaining personal insights, new ways to manage stress, discovering problem-solving skills, changing unwanted behaviours, enhancing interpersonal skills and more.
Who is Art Therapy For?
Art therapy benefits many people including individuals, couples, families and groups from diverse backgrounds and age groups, across many community and health care settings. Significant research exists demonstrating the efficacy of art therapy in the following areas:
What Does An Art Therapy Session Look Like ?
At Nightingale, art therapy blends and integrates with “regular” talk therapy. For most clients, a relationship with an art therapist will begin like any other therapeutic relationship, focusing on getting to know you, building trust, respect and rapport between the counsellor and the client, and coming to an understanding about what your goals for coming to therapy are.
As your conversations evolve, art therapists have extra tools to help you along the way. For example, an art therapy session may start out like a typical talk therapy session, checking in and beginning to explore certain emotions or experiences that you are currently dealing with. At some point an art therapist may invite you to spend a few minutes using line, shape, colour or symbol to explore these words, ideas, thoughts or emotions through a new medium – art materials! This can look as simple as scribbling on a page with a marker, doodling with a pencil, playing around with splotches of colour, tearing images out of a magazine to create a collage and more.
As some clients deepen into art therapy with a professional counsellor and art therapist, there are more opportunities for evocative creative practices that arise. Like with any modality, when using art therapy, your therapist will offer choice, guidance and support, and they will work with you to discover a pace that feels good.