Art therapy

Art Therapy

Are you experiencing difficulty to talk about your suffering? Is one of your experiences too dramatic to put in words? Are you simply 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?

The people who consult 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 show signs such as strong and persistent emotions, frequent outbursts of anger, and social withdrawal. Children with autism, dyslexia and children who have gone through big changes in their lives can benefit from art therapy sessions too.

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:

  • Stress

  • Insomnia

  • Fatigue

  • Rage

  • Anger

  • Resentment

  • Social withdrawal

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


    1. Plonger dans la créativité (exprimer-toi avec le journal créatif)

    2. Oser explorer la créativité, se détendre (pas de thèmes ou des thèmes abstraits)

    3. Identity issues (how you see yourself and how others see you)

    4. Family issues (dynamics between the family members and how they have affected you)

    5. Relationship issues-couple-friendship-work (emotional intelligence)

    6. Emotions-defence mechanisms (understanding-expressing-accepting)

    7. Dreams for the future (hope-positive thinking-action)

    8. Communication and conflict resolution (decision making)

In their own words

Relationships

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

Wellbeing

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

Personal awareness

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.

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My approach

I believe on the empowerment and empathy of the person involved in the therapeutic process. This is typical of the humanistic person-centered approach that focuses on the present, the self-expression and the potentials of all individuals.

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My experience

  • Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh, UK

  • Royal Blind School, Edinburgh, UK

  • Enheten för Psykosomatisk Medicin, Västerås, Sweden

  • CERN Welcome Club

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