Rather than focusing on transforming a stick-figure into a masterpiece, Art Therapy focuses on the art making process and not the outcome. Therefore no art experience is necessary. Art, in its many forms and mediums is used to tap into deeper parts of your psyche to bring forth your ‘voice’ and truth. Then by looking at the art making, whether it is in the form of a simple gesture, a piece of music, a drawing or painting, we can study what that voice and deep truth has to say. Many of my clients tell me that what I have been able to work on with them in a single session they have not been able to reach through many years of traditional ‘talking therapy’.
I believe this is because when we use language and our analytical mind, we have the unconscious ability to mask what we really feel. Or otherwise, simply can not find the words for as the original hurt may pre-date language. On the other hand, when we express ourselves through art making processes in a therapeutic facilitated session, we get in touch with parts of who we really are.
More and more research points to the fact that we store memory, including trauma, at a cellular level in the body. Our society focuses on the analytical which causes us to become ‘stuck in our heads’ and detached from our body senses. It is in our body senses where we stand to gain so much personal insight through our ‘gut instinct’ and intuition. In the book by Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel explains the Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.
By making art and doing body work, rather than using the analytical mind through language, we can bring ease back to the body and mind at a very deep level.