What is Art Therapy?

We sometimes feel that we deserve a better quality of life.  You may know what needs to be addressed, or you may just feel overwhelmed.  Art Therapy helps you to view your inner landscape gently, allowing you to examine and explore its various elements over time.  It offers you insight, understanding and possibilities, and you will become in charge of the landscaping yourself.

The structure

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses artwork to assist the communication between you and the therapist.  It allows both verbal and non-verbal communication to happen simultaneously.

Art Therapy is held in a confidential space with structured therapeutic boundaries, where you can safely explore your thoughts and feelings.

Art work as play

In Art Therapy, you do not have to be good at art.  It uses art’s element of ‘play’: our most primitive form of expression.  Once you get over the initial nervousness (worrying about your art being judged), you can work spontaneously just like a young child.  Art materials lets you externalise your emotions in a non-threatening way, and the Art Therapist will guide you to explore them gradually.

Why Art Therapy?

We all have difficulties at some point in our lives.  You might not think of them as being traumatic, but they can still affect your life without you even being aware of it.  You may become unnecessarily intolerant, resentful, angry or anxious.  Traumatic memories are often left in fragments in the brain outside of its language domain; they sometimes recur as flashbacks or nightmares.  Usually it is hard to put them into words so we may avoid thinking about them.

As Art Therapy does not need to solely rely on language, through images and other senses it can access often inaccessible places.  It enables you to process thoughts and feelings in a different way, and eventually integrate those difficult experiences safely into your life.

What can images contain?

Unlike words, an art image can contain contradictory/coexistent feelings (such as love and hate), therefore you may find it easier to express your confusing emotions.

In Art Therapy, you can create your own symbol (it can be as simple as a dot, or an indent on the clay), which contains a meaning you assign to it and only you know.  In this way, you can externalise difficult feelings without revealing everything.  Once it is ‘out there’, you can take time to explore it slowly by examining it from different perspectives.  The Art Therapist will respect your privacy and guide you through this process.

Artwork as record of inner landscape

The artworks created in Art Therapy sessions are kept by the therapist, so the powerful elements contained in the artworks are stored safely, and brought out again in the session.  You can view them and change them as many times as you like.  Artwork can create a distance from the unbearable realities of trauma, and allows you to explore them over time.

Through the development of a trusting relationship with the therapist, you may notice some things start to make sense and you can gradually find ways of sharing them with the therapist.  Words may be given to the feelings and experiences, and you can start visualising where you wish to be.

The Setting

  • Art Therapy is held in the studio of Stoke Damerel Parish Centre.
  • Sessions are usually one to one, for 60 minutes, held weekly.
  • A range of art materials is available.

We will have a detailed assessment first (approx. 90 minutes) before starting the therapy.

Your confidentiality is strictly respected, and the artwork created in the sessions will be kept safely until the last day of your therapy.

Please note that it normally takes at least 6 sessions to establish a trusting therapeutic relationship, for a person to feel safe enough to address things freely.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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