What is Art Therapy?

The number one question I receive after telling someone I'm an art therapist who works with older adults is, "What does an art therapist do?".  I think this is a great question and a great source of inspiration for my first blog post. 

Art therapy can occur in different modalities and mediums. Art therapists can also come from different perspectives, setting the tone and model of therapy they use within their sessions.  I work in a person-centered model.  Clients take the lead and I accompany them on their journey.  Clients choose their own materials and what it is they would like to create.  It is not generally about what is created, but more about the process of creating the art.

Art has this wonderful way of tapping into the unconscious and bringing internal insight to the surface.  Have you heard of the iceberg theory?  We only see a small amount, or for the sake of a cliché quote - 'the tip of the iceberg'.  That's the accessible talk part of therapy.  Once a client starts creating art they can go deeper because there's a level of relaxation that can occur with the art-making process.  There's a freedom to jump into the ocean waters, go deep and find the "hard stuff".  The client might speak about life issues as they're creating or process the finished product at the end.    

I am trained to help support clients and aide in processing their art.  I see art as an additional mode of communication, or language. Just like spoken language, creating art is a way a client can inform a therapist of what might be going on for them.  

When a person is creating art I pay attention to how they are moving.  That body language that's important with verbal communication is also important in the creation of art.  How heavy is their hand?  What are their strokes like?  What colors are they attracted to?  All of these are parts of their story.  It's that kind of information that I use to communicate with my clients.  

So, who is art therapy for? It's not just for children!  Older adults can also access parts of themselves that they've yet to meet.  Older adults can also use art therapy as a way to connect themselves with their past, present and future.  

I specialize in creating connections, whether they be for the client to connect with themselves, others or myself.  Older adults are at a high risk for depression, isolation, anxiety, and memory loss.  All of these things can impact how a person at any age functions, but it's so much worse for a person in the later stages of their life.  Want to learn how to look back on your life and be happy?  Want to learn how to look forward and continue to set goals for your future?  Want to reconnect with yourself or help a loved one reconnect with the world around them?  Book a session and see what it's all about!