What is Art Therapy?

Date Published: November 19, 2019
what is art therapy

Art Therapy promotes emotional expression and inner healing through the use of art materials. In the mid-20th century, doctors started using this type of therapy to help patients express themselves and cope with pain. Using lines, shapes and colors, patients could better convey their symptoms to doctors. They also experienced stress relief through Art Therapy, resulting in better overall health outcomes.

We have long understood that diving into our emotions and expressing them in healthy ways fosters inner healing. We know through research and decades of using Art Therapy in both in-patient and out-patient settings that art can build valuable bridges between the mind and body. Art taps into both the physical and emotional process of creation. As the client works with the therapist, inner conflict is addressed and resolved, stress is reduced and self-awareness and compassion can flourish.

Art Therapy gives people the opportunity to see their emotions in a new way. Additionally, clients can express their emotions non-verbally using art materials, which can feel safer and less overwhelming. In fact, art making may provide the only way to express deep and painful wounds when words fall short. The creative process can take what is hard to communicate and turn it into something more manageable to share. It is through this sharing process, with a trained Art Therapist, that healing can then take place.

Art Therapy Can Heal Trauma

Art Therapy is especially helpful for individuals who want to make sense of life challenges and traumatic events. We know from research that traumatic experiences are stored in the visual parts the brain. Through Art Therapy, clients can directly access these visual areas where trauma is stored in their brains and work through it more effectively.

Art Therapy is For Everyone

People of all ages, lifestyles, and creativity levels can benefit from Art Therapy. Art Therapists work with children, teens and adults, as well as families and couples. At Sage House, our Registered and Board-Certified Art Therapists frequently work with clients struggling with trauma, relationship issues, life changes, loss and grief, depression, anxiety, ADHD and stress management. This type of therapy also helps pregnant and postpartum women struggling with mood disorders and other perinatal mental health concerns, as well as their partners.

Art Connects Us All

There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people… and there is the visual that is understood by everybody – Yaacov Agam

Art Therapy allows for the internal to be shared with another. For clients, the ability to share with an Art Therapist their fears, dreams and experiences can be liberating as well as challenging. The creative process encourages greater connection and understanding between therapist and client.

The beauty of Art Therapy is that you can use it during therapy sessions and at home. We recommend the guidance of a Board-Certified, Registered Art Therapist to help you through this creative process. They have the knowledge and training to provide appropriate art materials to help clients achieve their therapy goals. Many clients choose to create treatment plans with their Art Therapist that involve art making both in and out of therapy sessions. This option can promote greater growth in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, the creation of artwork also provides a visual record of a client’s healing journey through therapy. Artwork has the power to hold our thoughts and feelings in time, giving us a map of our change, understanding and healing.

A New Path to Healing

A simple line painted with the brush can lead to freedom and happiness – Joan Miro

Art Therapy involves many forms of creativity and artwork. Drawing, sculpting, painting and collage are just a few examples of the creative tools your Art Therapist may use with you. Often clients worry they have to be artistic to try this type of therapy, but that is not the case. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to try something new.

Mental well-being helps us live full lives, and finding support is the first step. If you are experiencing emotional challenges in your life and want to learn more about how Art Therapy can help you or a loved one, please reach out to us! We are located in Reston, Virginia. We help individuals, families, children, adolescents and women. Our therapists specialize in trauma, depression, grief and loss, anxiety, ADHD, life transitions, pregnancy, postpartum and fertility challenges.

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