Creative Arts Therapies Online

Posted by: Dawn Schell on May 28, 2012 4:38 pm

There is an intersection between creative arts therapies and online counselling.  In my research I have learned creative arts therapists are wrestling with similar issues as we counsellors do regarding taking their work online. 

Cathy Malchiodi is an art therapist, visual artist and research psychologist.  Her blog posts on Psychology Today’s site about art therapy make for interesting reading.  Commenting on art therapy and digital and social media Cathy said, ”Art therapists have, of course, capitalized on the visual elements in the digital age. Some receive client artwork via electronic means between sessions, use web cams or Skype with individuals in rural or remote locations, and use digital art making programs to stimulate creative exploration…

…The verdict [from research] is not in yet about the impact of digital media on emotions or overall mental health when used in therapy. Creating with the available digital art programs is a somewhat different experience…

…So what’s the impact of creating digital images as a form of art therapy? There is only anecdotal comment from art therapists themselves…

…How will the exponential growth of digital art platforms and social media play out in terms of their impact on self-expression and visual creativity as therapy? First, the field of art therapy will have to catch up with fast-moving changes in digital and social media as well as develop research studies to evaluate the benefits of these media with the hands-on activities such as drawing, painting, modeling, constructing, and assembling…”[1]

So what types of art therapy is being done online? Here are just two examples – well worth checking out.

Kate Collie, Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta has been engaged in distance delivery of psycho-oncology services including distance art groups for women with breast cancer.   (see for more details on her work and research).

I have mentioned Dr. Hitomi Sakamoto, based in the UK,  in a previous blog post.  She uses art therapy, psychodrama and movement work in her online practice.  She suggests that her clients keep paper, crayons, puppets and other tools on hand during Skype sessions.

And then I learned about digital art therapy!   There is a LinkedIn group called Digital Art Therapy whose purpose is to “discuss practical ways to work with clients using technology. This can include digital photo collage, animation, film making, computer illustration, 3D drawing, e-zine, social networking pages, digital photography, music video, online art therapy, virtual world art therapy and more”.    So many possibilities to explore!

Dawn Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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