“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way —things I had no words for.”
~ Georgia O’Keeffe
- Combines art and psychotherapy in a creative process.
- Uses art making and verbal expressions.
- Art is seen as inducing self-talk, brings insight to beliefs and behaviors, and empowers children beyond treatment sessions.
- Help children with emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems.
- Aims to facilitate positive changes through engagement with the therapist and the art materials in a safe environment.
- Allows the child to develop personal and interpersonal skills.
The process of Art Therapy
Changes occur during the process of physical involvement with the materials, through the making of a significant art object, and through communication with the therapist via the art object. In art making, children are able to represent thoughts or feeling through an image and therefore make it more tangible and have a permanent record of their experiences. In creating an artwork, conflict, fear, or trauma is re-experienced, resolved, and overcome. This allows for them to better connect with others. In addition, physical and psychological skills are learned. A byproduct of working in art is that children have a stronger sense of who they are and what they are capable of achieving in the world as they learn to be creative and expressive.
Art Therapy with Indigenous People
- Many Indigenous people utilize traditional arts and find them essential to their life and well-being (Archibald, Dewar, Reid & Stevens, 2010), therefore, art-making may find acceptance within their communities.
- Non Indigenous art therapists can involve an Indigenous healer, or medicine person, with the client’s permission (Vivian, 2013).
- A non-Indigenous art therapist can trigger resistance, due to the therapist’s identity or role that may represent inequality to the client, as related to historical and current trauma, rather than a pathway to resilience. Hence, it is important for non-Indigenous art therapists to gain understanding by actively experiencing the Indigenous worldview: consulting an Indigenous Elder or community leader, participate in presentations and workshops through professional conferences educational institutions and participation in Indigenous traditional ceremonies
Archibald, L., Dewar, J., Reid C. & Stevens, V. (2010). Rights of restoration. Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal, 23(2), pp. 2–17, doi: 10.1080/08322473.2010.11432334
Vivian, J. (2013). Full circle: Toward an Aboriginal model of art therapy (Master’s project) Montreal, Canada: Concordia University.