- Mental Health
Art Therapy - what is it and how can it help?
The Creative Process
Using the Creative Arts in Therapy
I first encountered the use of art therapy at a prison on the Isle of Wight in the UK. I was researching the prison as part of my job in television prduction for TVS. Honestly I was pretty sceptical about how painting could help criminals become better citizens. However, as I spoke to several of the men,I learned that engaging with the art therapist had helped them look at who they were and, in some cases, was a significant factor in reforming their behaviour in jail, as well as their outlook and opportunities for the future.
Two years later I enrolled in a post graduate programme at The Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education in the UK (http://www.artspsychotherapy.org/) and trained as an Integrative Arts Therapist. I now use art therapy in a variety of different settings with individuals, families and groups. I have worked with youth and children, executives, rape victims, sex trade workers, prisoners, seniors, women with addiction and mental health disorders and the religious. In each and every case participants have benefitted psychologically and oftenttimes the work has been remembered as a significant experience years afterwards.
Art offers an insight into the internal self and, unlike words, engages the participant in a right brained process. Sometimes what emerges is "The unthought known" (Picasso).
Exploring the image with a therapist helps the client to understand what and why he or she has been experiencing, the thoughts and feelings that has led them to seek help.
Over time the art changes, healing and acceptance emerges. Sometimes, the art becomes beautiful, like a flower unfolding, pushing up through hard ground, an unexpected bloom in what was formerly a barren landscape. Other times the images are raw and harsh in their depiction of events. The factuality informs and confirms what happened , that the feelings are authentic and allows empathy and self love to replace the inner critic and self abuse.
Finished examples of five different art therapy processes
Accessing Art Therapy and Training
Most art therapy training programmes are offered at a post graduate level. Training can be taken full time or in modules. Pre-requisites will include studies in counselling, abnormal psychology, training and or experience in the creative arts and personal counselling or psychotherapy. In Victoria the BC School of Art Therapy (http://www.bcsat.com/ ) offers a post graduate diploma. Other Universities such as Concordia and IATE offer Masters Programmes.
If you are seeking services of an art therapist ensure that the therapist has adequate certification and is a member of a professional association such ar CATA (Canada), ATA (US) CPA (UK).
I also offer on-line, facilitated workshops and courses through Addiction Recovery Coach of Canada Society. These workshops are not just for and about addiction and recovery. (www.arccsociety.com) . The Gift Project is an eight week program that can be taken individually or facilitated within a group setting by a community service agency. This course costs $70.00 and is available as an e-book or in spiral bound printed format through www.arccsociety.com