Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reason Number Four Why You Would See An Art Therapist

The fourth reason why you should see an Art Therapist is because we understand risk. Art Therapists engage with this work because they understand the value of bringing the creative process into the therapy room. An Art Therapist has taken a risk by not going the traditional route of becoming a psychologist or clinical counselor. What we do is seen as alternative, perhaps even odd to some people and often is not covered by insurance companies. We took the risk to do what we believed in.
Why is this important to you as a client? It’s important because change is risky business. You have to leave the tried and true path of your habitual life if you want to change and at some point risk is part of the change process. Risk can be both exciting and terrifying.
I help guide the clients I work with through the risks that they take. It helps to have a guide who can interrupt the steps, offer possibilities and foresee some of the difficulties and challenges. But most important it is helpful to have someone who believes in and has risked change herself to pursue her dream even when others may have felt it was an unwise or irrational choice.

Next week I will end this series by telling you the fifth reason why you should see an Art Therapist.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Five Top Reasons Why You Should See An Art Therapist

Reason Number Three: is because most art therapists believe in and practice play. People usually come to therapy when they feel stuck, tired of repeating patterns, a need to solve an issue or they want change. Play can free people to move into the change they want in their life. It is well known that children learn through play; however, what is forgotten is that learning through play is available to adults as well. Throughout life play can help keep us awake, aware, mindful, mentally and physically alert, feeling young, and imaginative.

Engagement in play reduces stress and increases joy. But what would that look like in a therapy session you may ask? Well, it might be playing a game, doing a sand tray exercise that helps you get in touch with what you are grateful for in life. It may involve picking a saying out of the pocket of my life size Mr. Toad or painting while blindfolded.

Play in therapy may be eating something delicious in my pink fairy tent or playing with material. I like to make opportunities for playful experiences that invite imagination and magic into the therapy room.

Play is having a trust with spontaneity, entering imagination, going where we are interested, and moving through struggle. Play allows us to enter feelings of joy and pleasure, practice free expression, and attuning to the things around us playfully. Being playful can help move you in the direction of nonlinear, intuitive and spontaneous expression. Play and art can open up the creative cognitive processes, which allows for broad scanning ability, fluidity of thinking, flexibility, insight, synthesizing abilities, and divergent thinking.

Most important, being playful opens us to being able to perceive ourselves differently. Even when we are facing serious life crisis, humour, play and lightness can be part of our everyday experience. When we are facing obstacles and trauma we usually shut down or become structurally bound, which means not being full bodied in situations. If we are fully immersed in our trauma memory, we can become frozen which means that we are acting as though we are still in the past experience. It is not fluid new material but frozen old material that is being reenacted. Play allows us to expand, instead of contract. Play moves us into being process-bound, which means not reacting from the past or repetition of the past, rather acting from a present and awake state. Play and playfulness allows us to increasingly experience the richness of the moment. 

Next week I will share reason number four as to why you should see an Art Therapist.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Five Top Reasons Why You Should See An Art Therapist

Reason Number Two: is because most Art Therapists do not privilege words. Our society privileges words as the dominant means of expression. Most therapies use words (talk) as the primary way to deconstruct and reconstruct personal narratives. When you see an Art Therapist, you could have the opportunity to move, paint, mold, sing, dance, or collage instead of talk about yourself and who you are becoming. Art Therapy could offer you a new, perhaps not yet experienced way to explore yourself outside of the words that often keep you in your stuck-ness. Creative expression offers a fresh fluid way of seeing yourself and your issues or challenges which can lead you to gaining new insights and sensing new possibilities. By moving if you don’t move, painting if you don’t paint or drawing if you don’t draw in connection to exploring your self, provides your body and brain with new avenues to see and know yourself freshly.

We create the best atmosphere for change when we travel to new places and experience life outside of our comfort or safety zone. When we are stuck in our habitual ways of thinking, moving and experiencing life, change is often harder to realize. However, words can be, and are part of the Art Therapy session. Words are important for making meaning, reflecting, communicating and connecting; but art therapy offers more than words.

I work with several clients who are nonverbal and words are not part of our communication and connection. We create together through many other nonverbal mediums. Words often keep clients stuck in their heads when the healing happens faster and deeper when they can allow themselves to drop into their bodies.

Next week I will offer the third reason why you should see an Art Therapist.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Five Top Reasons Why You Should See An Art Therapist

Number one: chances are if you are seeing an Art Therapist for your therapy, she or he will be creative. I am not suggesting that all Art Therapists are creative, however, if a person has chosen this profession they are most likely a creative type. Why is that important to you? It is important because you are most likely seeing a therapist because you want change in your life. Change is a highly creative process that can be tricky to germinate and help flourish. If your therapist were creative, open-minded, skilled in knowing how to be situated in her/his own, and other people’s creative process, then they likely would be able to guide you through the journey of change.

In my own therapy work, part of my creative talent lies in knowing how to negotiate many paths of change. Each person, with whom I work, has his or her own creative, unique way to grow and change. As their guide or therapist, I can offer new creative solutions or options of how they can align themselves with their natural change pattern.

Therapy is artwork. Once I understand how a person’s change process flows, what they need in the moment to facilitate that, and how I can best support their process then we can start the dance of creative change. Being creative in the therapy room means that I have a variety of different methods, theories, hands on exercises, reading materials, physical and mental exercises, and ideas that help people in the right way, at the right time to grow and change. It means that I stay situated in my own creative process and at the same time, understand and move with someone else’s.

What could be a more challenging, rewarding and or exciting art form than that? Creativity rubs off. It is a way of being and knowing. The way I dress, the décor and ambiance of the studio space, the way I talk, move and think can be part of guiding my clients into their own personal change process.

Next week I will talk about the number two reason for why you should see an Art Therapist.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Favorite Art Therapy Book

Throughout my career I have been fortunate to read many inspiring and informative books on art therapy, creativity, art making, and therapy. I am often asked by students which authors they should begin with when first exploring the world of art therapy. Shaun McNiff was one of the first authors I read and became on of my favourite and he remains so today. I have reread Trust the Process many times. I recommend all his books.


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