I am very excited to be writing my first blog entry for Counselling Connect. Every two weeks I’ll be bringing you information and opinions about Creative Arts Therapies including best practices, tips, techniques and news from the art therapy community in Canada and around the world. Many people in the counselling field have heard of art therapy but are still not quite sure what it entails. I look forward to sharing this wonderful and creative therapeutic modality with all of you.
Art therapists help individuals explore their feelings and emotions using a variety of materials. In my practice, clients have the option of choosing paints, pastels, markers, clay, fabric, collage materials and repurposed every day objects amongst other things. They often begin with art materials they are comfortable with but with gentle encouragement, others begin to explore new ways of expressing themselves. It is often an enlightening, exciting and safe experience for clients.
But what about those people who may be hesitant about trying art therapy or resist it all together, insisting that they are not creative or cannot draw? It is in those instances that simple exercises can be introduced, such as drawing squiggly lines to relax. I might even ask the client to draw the ugliest picture they can, to take the pressure off of making “pretty art”.
At its core, art therapy supposes that all individuals are inherently creative. Whether they were never given the chance as children to develop their creativity or excelled in other areas such as math or athletics, many adults believe that they are not capable of imaginative expression. A common belief is that they were just born that way. However, some of these people may be creative in other ways without even realizing it. They may enjoy experimenting with cooking, photography while traveling, or take pleasure in colourful book covers while browsing in a bookstore. When clients start to appreciate the many ways in which creativity can exist and acknowledge their own innate originality, they begin to find new ways to express themselves. This may naturally lead some to consider trying art therapy whereas they might not have before.
As counsellors and therapists, we can help to reframe the idea of creativity and remove the notion that only certain people have an artistic spirit. Creativity is indeed in all of us.
Therefore, it is possible that by helping clients tap into their creative potential that they may also connect to a whole new world of emotional expression. And when new methods to express feelings and emotions emerge, new creative problem-solving skills may develop for clients as well.
Nalini Iype, MC:AT, CCC is an art therapist and counsellor in private practice in Toronto. For more information visit www.ArtTherapySolutions.com or email her at [email protected]
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA