Art therapy involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting to help clients express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art. Through creating art and reflecting on the end product and processes with the guidance of a counsellor, people can increase their self-awareness, notice particular patterns, and discover new ways of dealing with challenges.
No artistic talent is necessary for art therapy to succeed, because the therapeutic process is not about the artistic value of the work, but rather about finding associations between the creative choices made and a client’s inner life. The artwork can be used as a springboard for reawakening memories and telling stories that may reveal messages and beliefs from the unconscious mind.
Art therapy is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking deeper understanding of themselves and their personalities.
The artistic process offers a way of expressing feelings and thoughts in a manner that is spontaneous and less threatening than strictly verbal expression. Anxiety, anger, grief and other emotions and needs can be externalized into a visual medium. The artwork, that is a tangible product outside oneself, offers distance from one’s emotions, allowing the space for reflection, new perceptions, and transformation to happen. Art therapy can help clients explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with a physical illness or disability.