why would I see an art therapist ?
Frequently asked questions about Art therapy....
This is ultimately for you to answer! Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary means of communication. It can be a way to look at different aspects of your life from a new angle. It can offer a perspective you may not reach by talking things through or problem solving alone. Of course, like any therapy, art therapy cannot 'fix' things or change the past but it can definitely help you to shape what happens next in your life.
I'm not really any good at art so is art therapy really suitable for me?
Art therapy can be a misleading term! It actually has very little to do with art but a lot to do with being creative and using activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and assembling objects as a way of understanding ourselves better. In an art therapy session there are a variety of materials that you can use. If paper and pencil is where you feel comfortable to begin with, then that is a good place to begin. My job as an art therapist is to support you to engage in a 'creative process' which might sound a bit wishy washy or magical but many people find it a very real way of getting in touch with what is happening for them emotionally.
Isn't art therapy more for children?
Sometimes as adults we imagine that making things or spending time being creative is childish or not really something that adults have any time or use for. Perhaps if you think about the last time you made the effort to prepare a special meal or take a photo or play a challenging computer game, you can conjure up a positive feeling of passing time doing something that is not for financial or professional gain. It can be very pleasant to spend time in this way! An art therapy session is like this except that the intention is different- the intention is not solely to relax doing something pleasant, it is also to gain insight and awareness in regards to a life struggle. So in short, although art therapy is very suited to children because their expressive verbal language is not as developed as an adult's, it is by no means 'just for kids'. Not at all.
what happens in an art therapy session?
This is a difficult question to answer as every session with every person will be different. An example of an art therapy session might go something like this: a person arrives and is troubled by an interaction with their partner. As therapist, I invite them to choose some materials to work with in the session and let them know that there will be approximately 25 minutes for making their piece and the remainder of the session will be discussing the work together. The person chooses clay and they slowly work on creating a small boat, like a rowboat. When the time has passed that was set for the task or whenever the person has finished (whichever comes first), we make a tidy space around the clay boat and look at it together. What qualities does it have? What was it like to create it? What questions does the person have about their boat (maybe they will wonder out loud if it will float?!). As therapist my role is to build on any observations or questions that arise from interacting with the piece. If the person notices that the boat is empty or without an ocean/river/stream, I may make the suggestion of adding these elements either in the current session if there is time or in a subsequent session. Please note, I share this example for the purpose of illustration, not because all sessions will contain these elements.
will you analyse what I make in an art therapy session?
The short answer is 'no'. The way I practice does not involve making interpretations of your images or making suggestions about what they may 'mean'. If there is meaning to be derived from an image or something that you create in a session, that is something that would be discovered as part of working together in the session.
isn't it just like an art class?
Art therapy is very different to an art class in that I am not an art teacher and it is not the intention of an art therapy session to teach you anything about making art. You may learn about new materials or ways of being creative as a result of art therapy sessions but this is not the aim. The aim of an art therapy session is to learn more about yourself.