Like any good therapy, art therapy begins with a session where the therapist focuses on learning about their client, the reasons for seeking therapy, and the goals the client wants to achieve through therapy. Once this is done, what then? Do you spend time doodling or finger painting?
You might also work with clay, or wood, or a variety of other mediums.
The goal will be to choose a theme and the therapist will lead from there.
As you work on the project you’ve chosen, the therapist will observe and make note of things such as your level of hesitation in choosing materials, how much you look to them for guidance in the project, your body language, and so on. These will be important later.
When you finish the project, your therapist will want to know how you feel about it. Do you hate it, or do you think it’s okay? What emotions did you experience during that process, and how is your mind afterward?
Keep in mind, all of these are going to be centered on a theme. Maybe the theme is loneliness, and you’ve been struggling with depression from being isolated. As you work on the art project, you’ve also noticed feeling inadequate, or maybe abandoned, though you hadn’t realized those were present before. These are the things the therapist will help you work through, and generally the purpose of art therapy – to use a different medium to open up your emotions and thoughts so you can heal and move forward.
Next time, I’ll focus on some of the challenges specific to art therapy and some misunderstandings about it.
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