What is Art Therapy?
According to the Canadian Art Therapy Association, “Art therapy combines the creative process and psychotherapy, facilitating self-exploration and understanding. Using imagery, colour and shape as part of this creative therapeutic process, thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate.” Art Therapy is an evidence-based intervention for trauma and is supported by empirical research.
Art Therapy is a form of counselling and psychotherapy that many do not know very much about and, therefore, have never considered. We hope that this page will give you some helpful guidance about what it is, how it may be useful to you, and dispel some of the myths that keep people from accessing it.
Art Therapy is what we call a somatic therapy, and it is one of many different somatic approaches that are used within counselling. Being a somatic therapy approach means that it uses methods beyond talking to tap into a deeper part of the brain where emotions are stored (called the amygdala). Interestingly, this part of the brain generally cannot be accessed through talking alone, which takes place in the rational, decision making part of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex). As a result - and from a neurological perspective - a somatic approach combined with talk-oriented therapy, is often needed to explore all parts of the human experience.
Here at Find Your Way Counselling, we know first hand the challenges of navigating religious trauma and harm. Many people have various needs throughout the healing process that one modality cannot possibly provide everything for. As a result, we are happy to provide the option of both somatic and non-somatic therapy under the same roof, so that the best possible path forward can be accessed.
Who benefits from Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is for everyone and can be utilized for all of the same reasons that you would go to regular talk-therapy. However, below are a few specific circumstances, situations, or types of people that it may find it especially beneficial:
- If you have done non-somatic therapy and, although maybe it has been helpful overall, you still feel that there is a depth that continues to be unreachable for reasons that you cannot quite pinpoint.
- You have untreated PTSD. Art Therapy is a proven trauma intervention.
- You experience dissociation.
- You experience severe depression or anxiety that other methods have not alleviated.
- You struggle to verbally articulate your feelings.
- You are drawn to the arts and have previously found them to be therapeutic.
What can I expect?
Art Therapy is an extremely gentle form of therapy where you will never be pushed to go beyond what you are ready.
Yoonjin Park, the Art Therapist at Find Your Way Counselling, will give you prompts to use various art making materials and art modalities that will explore the parts of yourself that you may not have words for or a conscious understanding of. She will then provide space for you to express and share about what is coming up as you engage the prompts, as well as suggest various tools around psychological safety, intuition, the mind/body connection, and mindfulness.
How does it work with being online? Is it still effective?
Many people access Art Therapy online and it has proven to still be highly effective. Yoonjin will work with whatever art supplies you have on hand and is still able to tune into what you are doing and experiencing through a secure telehealth platform.
Do I need to be good at art in order to attend Art Therapy?
No! This is one of the most assumed myths of Art Therapy. There is no needed art skills or previous experience. The therapy is focussed on the process of art and what comes up psychologically within that.
I am interested in Art Therapy, but also know that I have a lot to talk through. Can I see one of the non-somatic therapists at Find Your Way and then transfer to Art Therapy at some point in the future (or vice versa)?
Yes, and we’ve found this arrangement to be highly beneficial for many.
It depends on where you are at when you enter therapy, but some people find that going to talk therapy for a period of time and then doing Art Therapy sessions later on to be beneficial. Others find attending Art Therapy sessions first to be the most helpful. This is especially true when there is unprocessed trauma that inhibits a sense of safety and groundedness.
We are always open to discussing creative ways to utilize the various modalities represented at Find Your Way to meet your changing needs throughout therapy. We offer a free 20-minute consultation and this is a perfect time to discuss these possibilities.
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Posted May 3, 2023Specialties