As an art therapist, I’ve often been asked about the benefits of merging the two worlds – psychology and art. To that question, my response has always been a passionate one: it is from within this intersection between mental health and creativity where our most innovative ideas are born. This messy middle space is filled with potential for unlocking personal breakthroughs and addressing patterns of dysfunction or pain to restore positive transformation in our lives. In today’s blog post, I invite you on my journey as we explore how to unlock this creative path to healing through art therapy!
But first.... Why? OH WHY.... Use Art?!?
Have you ever felt like there was something weighing on your heart or that you needed a creative outlet to express yourself? That’s where art therapy comes in. Art therapy combines the creative process of making art and the therapeutic process of expressing emotions. It is an effective way to boost your mental health and emotional well-being. Let’s dive into why art therapy is beneficial for everyone!
Art therapy helps you express yourself without having to use words. Through this practice, you can focus on your thoughts and feelings without judgement or criticism. Plus, it allows you to work through your issues at your own pace in a safe environment. The results are often shown in both physical and emotional growth over time as well as improved relationships with family members, teachers, peers, etc.
For those who already have an affinity for creating artwork, art therapy offers another layer of healing that goes beyond the typical artistic experience. Working with a licensed art therapist gives you the chance to explore any underlying issues that were previously unknown or unresolved while simultaneously honing your craft in a therapeutic setting.
No matter what stage of life you are in—whether you are a client looking for guidance or an artist searching for inspiration—art therapy offers an approachable and accessible way to unlock your creative side while also providing mental health benefits that can be felt both immediately and long-term. By participating in art therapy sessions, you not only gain access to new tools that will help you navigate life’s obstacles but also discover more about yourself through the process of creating something special just for you!
As humans, we developed the ability to communicate through speech approximately 500,000 BCE. However, we knew even then that speech is imperfect and restricted our ability to share ideas effectively. The use of symbols began nearly 30,000 years ago to improve quality, range, and longevity of communication across time and cultures.
The ability of the mind to form and create symbols and images to represent emotion, insight, and experience is deeply rooted in our DNA. Put simply, your brain knows how to do this! Struggle comes in when that nasty ego gets in the way and starts criticizing. "I can't draw", "I don't know what I'm doing", etc. I hear it all. Trust yourself and trust the process.
Speaking of the Process....
My favorite way to use art in a therapeutic context is by focusing on the process, NOT the product. This means that the actual action of getting-in and doing the art IS the therapy. Period. Product-oriented art therapy is more about what we see at the end. Sometimes you don't really realize what you're thinking or feeling until you see it right there in front of you. The product is often unrefined, messy, complicated... but so are our emotions!
And sometimes... just sometimes.... it turns out beautiful. That's what I like to call a big bonus!
Welcome! And hold on to your brushes!
It is my hope that I can use this blog to educate, validate, and open your mind to the millions of possible ways to use art in your healing journey!
Things I plan on talking about:
The Why's, When's, and How's of utilizing the creative process.
Digging into various mental health topics.
Providing inspiration and insight.
Offering prompts and suggestions.
My own reflections from both personal and professional work.
Maybe even some process pictures of the things I'm using on a daily basis.
I hope you'll stick around and check in once in a while. Take what you find valuable, share it with friends, push yourself to try something different, and cultivate your own toolkit for growth and healing!
Infinite and Unconditional XOXO's!