Saturday, November 8, 2008

How is art therapeutic?

(by art therapist Beverly A'Court, on her website Art Therapy.)

"Art-making involves a series of processes, from an inner image, impulse or subtle sensation to manipulation of materials and the completion of an entirely unique object. In this way art mimics life in many ways (physical, messy, unpredictable) and art-making is a form of play.

Art Therapists have tried many ways to describe how art therapy works.

Here are some components typically observed:

Art-making can provide the experience of resonance between an inner feeling and one’s depiction of it, of recognising oneself. The sense of ‘having made something’ of a bad experience, can itself be the beginning of a growing sense of agency and participation in both one’s illness, recovery from it and the creative and healing processes of life and the beginning of a growing self-esteem.

A sense of physical aliveness and re-connection as feelings are embodied in art-play, allowing a natural, childlike creativity to be brought to bear on painful experiences, experimentation to explore alternatives in art and everyday life.

The bringing together of pre- or un-conscious aspects of the self with the conscious, reasoning self, involving mind and body, matter and spirit, past and present, ‘inner adult and inner child’.

This has been likened to an alchemical process where a new state emerges from mingling aspects of the self, the art materials and the therapist’s witnessing presence.

Art making encourages a state of ‘reverie’ - relaxed absorption - where feelings, thoughts and perceptions outside our everyday thinking become accessible and can emerge as insight.

Despite the gravity of many conditions the art process itself, even when representing a negative experience, can be experienced as deeply relaxing, satisfying and positive.

Sharing with a therapist (who is also an artist), in a ‘public’ space, can be liberating from the strain of keeping painful experiences ‘private’ and hidden.

The rhythms and cycles involved in creative processes and the feelings associated with them can help us to develop appreciation of, and ways to work with, cycles and rhythms in our own lives and the rest of creation.

Exercising the imagination allows re-connection to deep dreams and life-aspirations as well as insight into deeply held fears, fantasies and negative self-images.

It is my view that Art Therapy often, if not always, involves transpersonal experience. Participation in creative processes in art therapy promotes an awareness of one’s profound interconnectedness with all of life and a deeper, broader sense of one’ self and one’s life.

It provides a context for the development of both mindfulness and meaningfulness."

If you have had this same experience with art in your own life, do send us your story by posting a comment!

1 comment:

  1. Hello there! Via the website of Arts in Health and Care where I found the article that was written about me when I worked in Thailand, I found your blog - wonderful! I think if we all share we empower Art Therapists around the world! Happy holidays! Sabine

    s dot deraaf at zonnet dot nl