Art Therapy

Healing through personal self-expression

What is art therapy?

“Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.” — American Art Therapy Association

Art therapy is more than creating artwork. It is the process of non-verbally looking deeper within you to find new creative ways to understand, enhance and live your life.

Invigorate Life Counseling offers a specialization in art therapy because it can be a very effective way to give words, meaning, understanding, and healing to the non-verbal and quiet parts of ourselves in a safe environment. It works well in collaboration with your current form of therapy or as a stand-alone approach. 

How does art therapy work?

Art therapy is a therapeutic intervention that encourages people to express and understand their emotions with a trained therapist. Art expresses concepts that are difficult to express with words, and makes this process effective for people who have experienced all types of trauma.

There is abundant neuroscientific data that demonstrates the use of art therapy and how it significantly increases brain function and leads to increased flexibility within your environment. Art therapy helps the brain process information and develops healthy brain connections.

Who are art therapists?

Art therapists are master-level clinicians trained in a dual degree; both psychotherapy and art therapy. They have been clinically trained in diagnosis, human development, clinical practice, spiritual multicultural artistic traditions, and non-verbal symbols and metaphors that are often expressed through the creative process. They are also held to the same clinical and ethical standards as all therapists.

Art therapists honor individuals’ values, orientations, and beliefs and can work with people who are challenged with medical and mental health problems, as well as individuals seeking emotional, creative, and spiritual growth.

Who can benefit from art therapy?

Anyone can benefit from Art Therapy! Art is a form of personal communication that is cross cultures, ages, abilities, genders, belief systems, sexualities, races and has no boundaries. Many people achieve beneficial results from the therapeutic nature of creative expression and uncovering.

Art therapy can be for anyone, including but not limited to people who are looking to strengthen and enhance their lives, gently process trauma, understand personal motivations, work on relationships, experience anxiety or depression, experience focus issues, or experience serious persistent mental illness.

“Today art therapy is widely practiced in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers… research supports the use of art therapy within a professional relationship for the therapeutic benefits gained through artistic self- expression and reflection for individuals who experience illness, trauma, and mental health problems and those seeking personal growth.” — American Art Therapy Association

Do I need any experience with art? What if I’m not very good at drawing?

No experience is necessary, and you don’t need to be “good at art”. Everyone has intrinsic creativity built into their brain. There are many creative ways to process your thoughts and feelings. These can include crafts, watercolor, playing with clay, writing, storytelling, collage, and more. The focus of art therapy is not on the quality or artistic merit of the work you create, but rather on being able to freely express what you’re feeling or experiencing using art as the tool and identifying what it means to you.

I’m already an artist. How is this different from my artistic work?

Art therapy is different than the artwork made in private or to show. You will use your creative skills to support your emotional and mental health. As an artist you have a built in healing mechanism. You might have experienced this in your own art making process. With art therapy, you will dig deeper with a series of projects to learn more about yourself and promote self-healing.

Does the therapist interpret my art?

Your art is an expression of your personal thoughts and feelings and is therefore not “interpreted” by anyone else but you. Guided by the therapist’s expertise and experience, together you can figure out what your art means to you. The therapist may also point out themes and patterns that emerge through your art. However, it may not be just the finished product that has therapeutic value, but also the process of making the art as well.

How do I know if art therapy is right for me?

Anyone can benefit from art therapy, but only you can decide if art therapy is right for you. The only way to know is give it a try. If you feel you would like more traditional counseling and not art therapy, those services can be provided as well.

To schedule an art therapy intake appointment to learn more, click here.

Learn more about art therapy groups offered at ILC, click here.