Understanding Art Therapy?

· One picture can provide a means to express not only more than one emotion, but opposing emotions all in the same space
· As image is not our usual form of conveying something, it can break through well developed modes of expression ie verbal communication
· Verbal means of expression being linear in construct, can make it difficult to express particular paradoxes of feelings and thoughts- ‘A picture tells a thousand words’
· Externalising the problem creates a space for people to see themselves as separate from the problem and therefore gain objectivity and new perspectives through the distance created
· The safety offered through the process of being able to separate from the threatening material can allow for integration of it
· Art therapy is a therapeutic intervention that can suit a wide range of the population as it does not require artistry, since process is more important than product

How Art Therapy Works

The therapeutic impact of art operates on a number of levels.
· colours chosen, their meaning and impact on user
· actual doing of it- soothing and cathartic effect
· impact of the materials themselves eg. clay has a different impact to the use of paint
· content of picture
· the metaphoric importance of symbols used to express certain themes
Personal themes and issues expressed through the use of colour, shape and image can be:
· re-engaged with
· explored for greater insight
· re-arranged
· soothed due to the cathartic nature of getting something out on paper
· shared as concrete evidence, therefore giving a sense of validation of an internal experience that has been either discomforting or threatening
· expressed without a need for words when it’s been too painful


. Art therapy is also an important therapeutic intervention from the perspective that, as Einstein observed ‘You cannot solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that has created the problem’.