Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that treats artistic media and the creative process as a way of communication and self-reflection.
Thanks to art therapy, people with weak defence mechanisms or people who find difficulty in communicating their feelings verbally, especially children, can express themselves in a safe way. A child can operate with symbols and the art therapist can interpret the content of an image and what the child wants to convey.
The techniques and methods of this form of therapy consist of, among others various types of artistic techniques that are sometimes combined with elements of play, writing, dance, music or drama.
In art therapy, emphasis is placed on creativity, the process and internal experience rather than on the aesthetics of the work. Therefore, people who undertake art therapy do not have to have artistic skills to fully experience its therapeutic value. For some clients the simple choice of a coloured pencil and sketching the simplest sign is an important form of expression.
In art therapy, inspiration comes from feelings, memory, dreams, ideas or the just from a need to draw. A wide range of materials such as clay, paint, crayons or illustrations allows one to explore all range of emotions by offering a physical, often surprising form. The creative process involves our psyche in a new way. It provides new meanings for everything we can not express in words and allows us a better understanding of the nature of our problems and difficulties. This in turn leads to a positive and permanent change in the perception of the self and ourselves in current relationships, in turn giving us a better quality of life in general.
Therapeutic relationship plays a key role in art therapy, which differs from the relationship in traditional forms of psychotherapy, because it occurs between the therapist, client and artwork. The psychotherapeutic context is the basic difference between art therapy and art classes or occupational therapy.
A sense of security is the basis of art therapy: images are not criticised, evaluated or analysed. The principle of confidentiality and the individual client’s restrictions are always respected. In the session the client is encouraged to play, experiment and engage in a creatively indiscriminate means of self-expression in a way that is most comfortable for the client. The therapist does not interpret the images but encourages the client to independently discover their hidden meanings in relation to a given problem.
In addition to the session, a ready image or object serves as a source of further reflection.
Art therapy is suitable for people of all ages. They come to art therapy for many reasons. These include stress and emotional difficulties such as depression, loss, low self-esteem, anger, anxiety and trauma, mental illness, disability, psychosocial problems and severe or chronic illnesses.
Art therapy is often recommended in therapeutic work with children because the child lacks the ability to understand and express complex emotions in words – especially if they have experienced trauma. However, the same applies to young people and adults, not only those who have problems with articulating their feelings and experiences, but also those who have a tendency to intellectualise and speak too much.