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BLOG: The Healing Brush: Art in Therapy

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Through various artistic mediums, individuals can access their innermost thoughts and emotions, which are often difficult to express verbally.




Art serves as a bridge to the subconscious, enabling clients to uncover insights and release buried pain.


‘Art Therapy’ and ‘Using Art in Therapy’ are related concepts, but they have distinct differences in their approach and purpose within a therapeutic context.


Art Therapy – is a specialised mental health profession. It involves the use of art and creative processes under the guidance of a trained and credentialed art therapist who has expertise in both art and psychology.


Using Art in Therapy – uses art as part of the counselling process, integrating creative/expressive therapies into the therapeutic approach, which may include traditional talk therapy or other therapeutic modalities.


In this blog will delve into the advantages of ‘Using Art in Therapy’, highlighting how it can help individuals navigate the often complex and intricate landscape of their emotions.


Art offers a non-judgmental space for self-discovery, mindfulness, and catharsis, enabling clients to release stress, process trauma, and gain insight into their inner worlds.


Traditional talk therapy has long been the ‘go-to’ method for helping people who are struggling with their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. However, there has been growing recognition of the powerful role that art can play in promoting mental and emotional well-being.


Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy and has the ability to transcend words and tap into the deepest recesses of our minds and emotions. It provides a unique channel for self-expression, self-discovery, and healing but it does not require the involvement of a registered art therapist.


Key characteristics of using art as part of therapy include:


  • Supplementary Tool – Counsellors, who may not be art therapists, use art as a supplementary tool within a broader therapeutic context. Art activities are part of the therapeutic toolkit but may not be the primary focus of the session.

  • Flexibility and Engagement – using art in therapy offers flexibility and engages clients in a creative process that can be relaxing, stimulating, or thought-provoking.

  • The goal of using art in therapy may be to engage clients, facilitate self-expression, or provide relaxation and stress relief.

  • The therapist may not interpret the artwork in the same structured and clinical manner as an art therapist but can still use it as a starting point for discussions.

Benefits of Using Art In Therapy - Now, let’s explore how the act of creating art, including techniques like brush strokes, contributes to the healing process in therapy:





  • Enhanced Communication: Art allows individuals to express thoughts, feelings, and experiences that might be difficult to put into words.

  • Non-Verbal Communication: Using art as part of the counselling process allows clients to communicate non-verbally, which can be particularly valuable for children, trauma survivors, or individuals with language barriers. It serves as an alternative means of expression.

  • Enhancing Self-Expression through Brush Strokes: The physical act of making art, including brush strokes on a medium such as a canvas, provides a non-verbal means of expression. Clients can use these strokes to convey their emotions, experiences, and thoughts, offering a unique and often more profound outlet than words alone.

  • Reducing Stress and Promoting Relaxation: Engaging in the creation of art, whether through painting, drawing, or other artistic forms, can be meditative and stress-reducing. The tactile experience and focus on the creative process helps clients relax, reducing anxiety and promoting mental well-being.

  • Fostering Creativity and Problem-Solving: The act of creating art encourages creativity and problem-solving skills. This newfound creativity can extend beyond the art-making process, assisting clients in finding innovative solutions to personal challenges.

  • Empowering Clients through Artistic Expression: The creative process empowers clients by allowing them to take control of their narratives. Brush strokes, colours, and shapes enable clients to process trauma and difficult experiences, transforming them into symbols of strength and resilience plus help find healthier coping mechanisms.

  • Mindful Creation: Engaging in art encourages clients to be present in the moment, promoting mindfulness. Mindful creation allows individuals to temporarily set aside worries and focus on the creative process, reducing stress and anxiety.

  • Healing Through Metaphor: Artistic techniques such as symbolism, metaphors, and visual storytelling can help clients process and make sense of their experiences. This symbolic communication can lead to profound insights and healing.


CONCLUSION


Using Art as a therapeutic tool offers a profound and versatile approach to healing and personal growth. The benefits of incorporating art into therapy are abundant and impactful, as outlined in this blog. Art, with its varied techniques and forms, becomes a powerful ally in the therapeutic process.


By encouraging self-expression, reducing stress, and promoting creativity, art in therapy serves as a means of engaging with one’s emotions and experiences. The act of mindful creation guided by your counsellor, provides a safe space for clients to explore their inner worlds, enhance communication and find healing.


Moreover, the healing journey facilitated by art in therapy empowers individuals to confront and process traumatic experiences, leading to greater resilience and the development of healthier coping mechanisms. In using art as a therapeutic tool, clients embark on a path of self-discovery, growth, and emotional well-being.


Whether through expressive brush strokes on a canvas, the shaping of clay, or body movement through dance, the therapeutic power of art reaches deep into the human soul, helping individuals navigate the complexities of their inner landscapes, heal from emotional wounds, and emerge stronger and more self-aware.


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