Many have found solace through the therapeutic benefits through art expression. The ability to express thoughts and feelings through art making has been timeless. Our love for art making goes as far back as the prehistoric ages of the caveman as evidenced on cave walls. Such passion for art making remains evidently so today.
Studies have shown that expressing ourselves through art can help us with self confidence issues, improve self-concept, overcome trauma, depression and anxiety. It has been linked to improved memory, reasoning and resilience. Research has also shown that creating visual art can reduce stress and promote relaxation in people and is often used as a way forward.
Creating art on our own and art therapy are two completely different approaches. With an art therapist, we are working within a safe and supportive emotional space backed by a therapeutic relationship. Here, we will be able to address various emotional issues and be given additional tools for art making. We do not need to be an artist or have artistic abilities, but the focus is on the art making process and journey.
Art Therapy is a blend of “art” and “psychology”. It is suitable for all people regardless of age and cultural background. Children who are non-verbal or less verbal will find self expression through art an incredible avenue to build their confidence in communication. Art therapy is applicable to adults as well. It uses a non-intrusive approach and brings unconscious content within the artwork to the client’s awareness. It is often viewed as a “fun” and “approachable” way to address difficult underlying emotional issues.
Art Therapy at a Glance:
• Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy utilising creative modalities within a therapeutic relationship to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.
• Art therapists have been trained to work therapeutically using visual arts, including drawing, painting, and sculpture.
• Art therapy has been recognised and regulated around the world by organisations such as the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT), the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), Australian and New Zealand Art Therapy Association (ANZATA), Art Therapy Association of Singapore (ATAS) and Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA).
• Art therapy is traditionally based on, but not limited to, psychoanalytic or psychodynamic principles using varied practice-based and evidence-based theoretical frameworks. These include depth analytic, humanistic, behavioural, systemic, and integrative approaches.
• Art therapy can be practiced with individuals as well as groups and is not limited to age.
• Art therapy does not rely on artistic knowledge or ability, but by accessing imagination and creativity, qualities which all human beings possess.
• The emphasis is on the process of creating and meaning-making than the end product.
• The therapist and client/s develop an interpersonal relationship through the art making process, with clear boundaries and shared intentions.
Advantages of the Art Therapy:
Art Therapy can help people resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and achieve insight.
During art therapy clients are encouraged to:
• express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise
• explore their imagination and creativity
• develop healthy coping skills and focus
• improve self-esteem and confidence
• identify and clarify issues and concerns
• increase communication skills
• share in a safe nurturing environment
• improve motor skills and physical co-ordination
• identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth
Resources on Art Therapy:
AATA – American Art Therapy Association www.arttherapy.org
ATAS – Art Therapy Association of Singapore http://www.atas.org.sg
ANZATA – The Professional Association for Arts Therapy in Australia, New Zealand and Singaporehttp://www.anzata.org
BAAT – The British Association of Art Therapists www.baat.org
CATA – Canadian Art Therapy Association canadianarttherapy.org
HCPC – Health and Care Professions Council www.hcpc-uk.org/
Getting in Touch with an Art Therapist
Art therapy is a journey. It would be important that you feel comfortable with the therapist you select as you will need several sessions of therapy for it to be effective. You will not be able to find a solution with just one therapy session.
For the first session, this is usually what we call an assessment or the initial meeting. It is the time where you need to assess whether you feel comfortable enough with your therapist to continue the journey. It is for the therapist to understand what is going on with you, to plan an intervention and a way forward for you. It is recommended to have at least two sessions before deciding whether you would like to continue having art therapy as your way forward.
Amanda is a certified and experienced Art Therapist (MA-AT 2015 Masters in Art Therapy) and Arts Educator (Registered with MOE-AMIS). She works closely with special needs children, children with rare disorders, youth at risk and young adults. She is active and current in the social work scene for the past decade and has worked together with many charities and social enterprises. She was the Former Deputy Director of Social Creatives and currently sits on the board as Honorary Secretary of the Rare Disorders Society of Singapore.