About

Art Therapy

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All images above have been used with relevant permissions from creators.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is an evidence based form of psychotherapy which combines the studies of art, psychology and psychotherapy. Art Therapists also hold deep understanding of the sensory and therapeutic qualities of art materials and how they psychologically impact people.   

What is an Art Therapist?

Art Therapists are specialist clinicians, with post-graduate training. Art Therapists use interventions to help clients develop skills and abilities, improve health and reduce psychological distress.  

Is it just art making?

No, depending on your needs, an Art Therapy session could be a mix of talk-based counselling/psychotherapy and art-based therapy/psychotherapy. 

Do I need to bring/buy anything?

No, I have everything you would need in my clinic or outreach bag but you are welcome to bring other materials or images along. I can also help write supporting letter to advocate for NDIS funds to purchase art materials for your home if it helps with your goals.

Who Art Therapy for?

Us Art Therapists believe Art Therapy is for everybody of every age and every ability. No art skills are required. Art Therapy is used in a range of settings. Art Therapists work in hospitals, schools, rehabs, community settings, detention centers and so on. I have even heard that Art Therapy is even being used sometimes in leadership training and with athletes before competition. 

How does a session look?

Each Art Therapy session is generally 1 hour long and the structure is guided by your specific goals and needs. 

Adult & Youth Mental Health

When starting, we will go to a private space in your home or my clinic room. I will ask you how you are and if you feel like talking about something or making art. I have a range of art materials and suggestions for Art Therapy activities that work on different goals. 

Some people prefer to do mostly talk-based counselling and use art making during the conversation to help find deeper meaning. Sometimes people want to do mainly art, instead of talking, to help relax or express and release emotions. 

Children with disabilities

With children who have disabilities, generally the goals are more about aiding development. Some children come to me for development of abilities such as fine motor skills, social skills, communication, creative thinking and expression, emotional regulation, sensory processing, self esteem building and others. I assess the child's functioning, art material preferences and needs whilst I observe how they interact with art materials and with me. I then work creatively with their strengths and interests to aid other areas of development. Depending on the child's needs and goals I may do sensory-based art therapy, visual art therapy or some play therapy. I also work alongside parents to ensure goals and needs are being met.

Therapeutic Benefits​

Below I have described some benefits. Rest assured there are many more.

Such as: aiding development in fine motor skills, frustration tolerance, sensory integration, ability to follow instructions, reducing self harm, self-esteem, attention span and so on.

Trauma

Art therapy can be a gentler way of engaging in therapy for those who have experienced trauma. Art therapy offers a way to "triangulate" the relationship between the client and therapist, which offers a way to reduce the tension of being in therapy. The relaxing properties of some art materials can also offer a way to self-sooth. Art Therapy accesses different areas of the brain, than just talking alone. These areas can be where non-verbal sensory-based trauma memories can be stored and processing these through engagement in art materials can help to heal developmental trauma through neuroplasticity. 

Emotional Regulation

Art Therapy research in mental health has shown again and again that Art Therapy builds skills in emotional regulation. This may be because Art Therapy promotes self-awareness, sensory and bodily awareness, self understanding and self compassion. Art Therapy research also shows that art making can reduce cortisol (stress hormones) in the body after just one 45 minute session.
 

Chronic Pain & Illness

Art Therapy is shown to help people reduce and/or cope better with chronic pain and illness. Art Therapy aids help people to develop a compassionate relationship with themselves and their illness and/or pain, which is an vital aspect of chronic illness management. This reduces stress which can also be helpful to aid the bodies self-healing ability.  

Gaining Insight & Self Discovery

Art making bypasses our verbal defense mechanisms and helps us to more fully experience and know ourselves. Art making is inherently an act which engages our emotions, values and identity. Mental health consumers who have written or contributed to Art Therapy research consistently report that an important aspect of Art Therapy to them is the ability to engage in a process of self discovery.  

© 2020 by Alana Stewart, AThR

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