What is Art Therapy
"At the end of the day, we endure much more than we think we can." - Frida Kahlo
Although artistic expression has been around for centuries, the term Art Therapy has only been around since the mid 20th century, getting given its title in 1942 by British Artist Adrian Hill who worked in this way with patients during their illness as they found this creative outlet a way for emotional release. Then in 1964, the British Association of Arts Therapists (BAAT) was founded.
Art therapy is a form of therapy where feelings and emotions can be explored through using painting, drawing and any other form of art-making. Art can help you explore situations and parts of yourself you are struggling with, and offers a safe and quiet space to express yourself freely without any judgement. Groups and one to one sessions can be offered depending on the client’s needs. Some people due to early relational trauma can have damaged parts of their brain, one part being a major regulatory system resulting in the failure to experience empathy. Therefore, using art materials offer a unique capacity to absorb and slow down high impulses of emotions, which helps in the reconnection of the cortex and helping of containment. (Chong, 2012).
Who is Art Therapy For?
Art Therapy is for anyone who struggles to understand their emotions and feelings.
Who may have experienced some form of loss, grief, abuse or attachment issues and feels that they may need a way of understanding it all, but words either don't seem to be enough or can be too much.
If you feel that art therapy is something you would benefit from then please do not hesitate to contact me through the contact's page on this website for an initial telephone or face to face assessment.
Therapy for Adults
Groups and Individual sessions are also beneficial in many different ways for adults in art therapy. Being in a group can be a way in which the clients can feel a sense of belonging, and understanding of others through shared experiences. Individual sessions can also help in finding a sense of self through more one to one working.
Some adults may suffer from mental health issues, complex trauma, abuse, personality disorder, anxiety or depression. Adhering to NICE and SIGN guidelines the client would be assessed and treated accordingly to their presentation to ensure they received care appropriate to their needs. Utilising Judith Herman's theory of recovery to supported clients to meet their therapeutic goals and aims which I believe to be essential to their healing process.
Below is a link to the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) website where you can get more information on Art Therapy.
Therapy for Children & Adolescents
Many children take to art therapy very comfortably, as using a medium that they are familiar with helps ease the anxiety and stigma around therapy. Children can benefit from individual or group sessions.
Individual sessions give the child a chance to have a one to one therapeutic relationship where they can work to build trust and resilience with the therapist. Group sessions can be a good way for children in building relationships, learning how to work in groups and from each other. The art therapist would observe the children and engage with them about their artwork. Asking open-ended questions, being reflective and curious about the child’s work.
When thinking of how the session will run Virginia Axline, 1964 states that:
“Children will take the therapeutic experience to where they need to be. The therapist does not attempt to determine when or how a child should play and does not speed up the process.” (Virginia Axline, 1964)
She is suggesting that the therapist will not force the client to talk about their past trauma or tell them what materials to use, but instead give the client the lead and let them work on what they need or want to. However, if the therapist feels like the sessions aren’t going anywhere then themes can be suggested.
Art Therapy and Therapeutic Art
What is the difference?
This section is to help to understand what the difference is between both.
Art therapy is based more on the relationship, process, reflection, and self-expression. Where we can explore healing emotions, trauma, pain, and physical/mental illness. Working in a non-judgment way, using intentional therapeutic material and structure. It is used for communication.
Whereas, therapeutic art can be a way of creating art in a non-therapy setting, at home or at school. It's where you may use art to help you relax, or for clearing the mind, and self-expression.
It can provide a sense of accomplishment and feelings of self-worth in your own abilities. Providing a source of escapism and distraction during uncertain times.
Below you will find a link to the Healing for the Heart website where you can find support in Counselling or Art Therapy. Or similarly you can contact me through this website for online or face to face support.