You don’t need to be an artist to access art therapy. Art is a process of using whatever means we are drawn to or have at our disposal to express what is inside us. It comes from the depths of our hearts, our experience, our knowing. Art is expressed in many forms – using tools and materials, movement, music, words and metaphor.
Therapy involves someone else helping us with something. For example, physiotherapists help us with our bodies; occupational therapists help us with work or living activities. Psychotherapists help us with our emotions, relationships, our psyche and our spirit. Sometimes we just want help with a specific problem. Or, at some stage in our life we may become aware that we need to take a deeper look inside ourselves. This is called inner-work.
Art therapists help us to explore what is going on at a deeper level. They can help with our expression of things we find difficult to put into words, or hard to talk about. All therapy involves a relationship of trust between the therapist and the person seeking help (client).
Art Therapy involves a three-way relationship between the client, the therapist and the art itself. This can happen on a one-to-one basis or in a group situation. Some art therapists have their own practice in a room or studio where clients come for an hour or so and they work together on whatever is uppermost for the client. Other art therapists are employed in different settings – hospitals, schools, prisons, and aged care facilities, for example.
My work is with groups and communities, in blocks of time, in different settings such as schools and residential care homes, or anywhere where groups gather. There are many benefits to doing our inner-work in a group. Here are some of them:
- The facilitator offers and holds a safe space for the group to express themselves.
- It is often a less expensive way of receiving therapy.
- Being in a group is a good way to realize that we are not alone, that other people have the same sort of issues.
- Groups have great potential for members to nourish each other, and gently challenge each other.
- Group members have a tendency to spark each other’s ideas as we open to new ways of thinking and being.