Thursday, November 29, 2012

Defining Art Therapy...{Creative Pathways}

As I have moved forward in combining my passion {creating} and my purpose {counseling} I have really had it on my heart to share the definition of art therapy in this place...and to investigate how others have infused their faith into the process.  The "text book" definitions are included in this post - the next will explore the spiritual component in more depth...

One thing I enjoyed as I read the formal definitions of art therapy is how the processes apply to people who  are "seeking personal development" - doesn't that apply to us all?  The beautiful thing is that we can choose to seek guidance as we grow or as creatives and innovators, we pursue the path on our own!  I invite you to read through the definitions, and note {journal?} the benefits that speak to you...

All the artwork here is mine - done with clients (it is encouraging to some to have the counselor do art with them ♥) and some just to express what was in my heart...

wings, freedom, flying - all point to the comfort of feeling at "home in one's own life"

The American Art Therapy Association offers this definition:

Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development.  Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.  
 Research in the field confirms that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to become more physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and functional, resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, handle life adjustments, and achieve insight. {my thought - I believe this definition applies to all of us as we live our daily lives!♥}
(a list compiled from other places with art therapy definitions) 
Art Therapy is a form of therapy that uses art as a means of expressing and working through emotional difficulties.

a) Allows for the expression and processing of emotions that may be difficult to put into words.
b) Gives opportunity for the externalization of emotional issues encouraging clients to see other alternatives.
c)  Makes verbal expression more accessible 
d)  Provides the client with insight into the issues they are dealing with so they can move forward in their healing.
e)  Helps bring change to destructive patterns of behavior

Sometimes the decision to uncover past trauma is an event in and of itself - this was done to help a person with complex DID feel safe in even making the choice to move into facing deep trauma or "standing" still for a while...allowing her current level of healing to further stabilize her life.
(love this list!)
According to the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association, art therapy can help:

a) reduce stress
b) increase self compassion
c)  resolve conflicts
d) develop interpersonal skills
e) achieve insight
f) manage problematic behavior
g) express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise
h) explore their imagination and creativity
i) develop healthy coping skills and focus
j) improve confidence
k) identify and clarify issues and concerns
l) increase communication skills
m)share in a safe nurturing environment
n) improve motor skills and physical coordination
o) identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth.

I found this little girls face in a magazine and just loved the look on it - and the position of her hands...I made this just as a message - to help clients (even myself!) think about how to release the unhealthy patterns of responding to relationships that were learned in childhood, and to enjoy the childlike quality of spontaneity...


(this definition is a compilation of many different sources I found)

Children do not possess the same ability to verbalize difficult feelings and experiences that adults do. 

Because of their difficulty with verbal expression and abstract thinking, talk therapy is often very limited with children.  

Art therapy is a psychotherapeutic service and form of expressive therapy that gives kids the chance to participate in creative, nonverbal expression through the use of art materials. In other words, art therapy communicates when words simply cannot.
Did you learn anything new? 
Or do you have more understanding now as to why you love, love, love to make art?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...