This week's post is written by June Martin of Moth & Twig.
I am a therapist. I am an artist. At times I have been able to combine art and therapy in treating clients. The outcomes were often quite successful. But why?
By definition, art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. You needn’t be a Rembrandt to participate in art therapy. In fact, when I suggested the modality of art therapy to clients I was sometimes met with, “But I’m not artistic. I can’t even draw.” That statement alone is a whole other blog! I usually respond with, “It’s ok, you needn’t know anything about art to create and express yourself. This is about you and your unique voice. Through art, we can bring out that voice.”
In my work I have witnessed how the creative process helps people see things about themselves that they may not otherwise have understood. I have especially seen how art therapy is beneficial for children since it is sometimes difficult for children to express themselves using words. Art therapy can help people process their emotions so that they can begin to heal. Art therapy is also used to help alleviate anxiety and stress.
Do you need an art therapist to help you experience the benefits of creative arts? While certainly an art therapist can guide you and help you explore and gain insight through creative expression, I think just about anyone can benefit from doing art on their own, whether it is to relieve stress and/or anxiety, discover something new about yourself, or use it in a way to connect with others. Art is powerful. Whether you’re creating or viewing, art can touch your soul like nothing else can. It is important to note that art is not limited to the visual arts. The concept of art spans many varied disciplines.
The next time you’re in a gallery, museum, or a cool, local artist co-op (such as Artistic Portland), take a moment to reflect on the art you’re drawn to. How does it make you feel? Why do you think you were drawn to that piece? Let the art be interactive. The artist who created the piece you are drawn to most likely experienced emotions of their own while creating the piece. I know for me, creating is a highly therapeutic process and each piece I create has a story. Though the buyer will most likely never know that story, and I may never know what compelled the buyer to purchase the piece, it is enough for me to know that SOMETHING about the piece spoke to them and it is always my hope that each time a piece is worn, they are reminded of what that piece means to them. Art is powerful and often therapeutic.