Are you experiencing difficulty talking about your experiences and feelings? Have you had a traumatic experience you find difficult to put in words? Do you feel not motivated or too shy to talk?
Art therapy involves a variety of visual arts, for example painting, clay, crafts, collage, photography and writing as a way of understanding and expressing feelings and thoughts.
Art Therapy may be provided for groups or individuals depending on people's needs.
The greek word for drawing "ζωγραφίζω" could give the meaning of art therapy in a single word, as it is translated "I draw my life". Experiences from the past and present, dreams and fears for the future, thoughts, problems, ideas, anger, love and confusion can all be put on a piece of paper, on the floor, on the wall or elsewhere with the use of brushes, pens, clay, crafts or even just your hands!
Who consults an art therapist?
People who chose art therapy often suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, panic attacks, or they are frustrated and feel lost and weak because of sudden changes in their professional or personal life.
The children I work with have strong and persistent emotions, frequent outbursts of anger or social withdrawal. Children with autism, dyslexia and children can also benefit from creative art therapy.
What is the role of a therapist?
By using both hemispheres (the right hemisphere works with images and the left with logic and words) art therapy breaks and reveals our deepest thoughts and experiences.
The role of the art therapist is to encourage and direct the discovery of these thoughts as well as the ways to cope with them through the image created by the client. This triangular relationship (the therapist-the client-the image) also differs from other therapies and makes art therapy so unique.
More specifically, the role of the art therapist is:
Understanding the art process (use of art materials, significance of colours, size, proportion and relative position of component parts, missing parts)
Analysing the creations through questions
Reflecting on ideas and emotions.
Using verbal and non verbal communication (observing body language and listening to what is said)
Providing a trusting and facilitating environment in which we are able to safely express ourselves (meeting at the same time, same place with the same people)
Offering confidentiality (respecting and following the code of ethics)
Do I need therapy?
Art Therapy is recommended when there is distress in one or more following parts of our life:
Family or relationship issues
Work or school issues
Personal or family health issues
Changes in at least one of all the above
Unresolved issues from the past (repressed emotions for a long time)
This distress usually comes with some of the following symptoms:
Common stories of people in therapy?
I live in social isolation-A thought is stuck into my mind; I get seriously ill. I am shaking in fear. I am swetting and feel my heart beating fast...
I need someone to take care of me-I am always giving to others asking nothing in return... and they exploit it.
I find no purpose in life-I stay in bed. I do not see the reason to do stuff...
I have difficulty to fit in ... i feel that others criticize me constantly.
I often argue with others ..at moments I am too weak to stop and find myself having said things I regret...
I am not pleased with my body
My job is not fullfilling any more
Often, I drink a lot- I cannot resist it, it makes me feel better...
What are the typical phases of a therapy cycle
Following are the typical self-awareness Cycles in Art therapy
Plonger dans la créativité (exprimer-toi avec le journal créatif)
Oser explorer la créativité, se détendre (pas de thèmes ou des thèmes abstraits)
Identity issues (how you see yourself and how others see you)
Family issues (dynamics between the family members and how they have affected you)
Relationship issues-couple-friendship-work (emotional intelligence)
Emotions-defence mechanisms (understanding-expressing-accepting)
Dreams for the future (hope-positive thinking-action)
Communication and conflict resolution (decision making)
In their own words
I always fight with my mum / I don't get on well with my parents / I am always angry and loose easily my temper with my family / My parents were never there for me / I fight with my husband all the time / I can't communicate with my partner / I don't have time for myself / I always take care of others / I cannot say no / I always feel the victim
I can't sleep well / I am always tired / I cry all the time / I am always stressed / I am not motivated to do anything
I am very shy / I can't stand criticism / I think people don't like me / I think people talk about me / I hesitate to talk to others / I don't like my body / I drink too much / One of my loved ones suffers
Code of ethics
Choosing an art therapist is not so easy. Understanding, trust, confidentiality and a friendly atmosphere are some of the ingredients that build a successful therapeutic relationship. However, do not underestimate the typical qualifications that your therapist should have.