inside art therapy

Putting art therapy ramblings to paper…

Art Therapy- incidental or directed? January 11, 2012

Filed under: Art Therapy,Creativity,Glenda Needs — insidearttherapy @ 9:51 am

The history of art therapy is rich and varied.  A spectrum of approaches seems to have developed, and educational institutions find a place within that spectrum and produce graduates from this position.  My own teaching falls into a small stretch on that continuum.  Although I believe deeply in the power of the act of art making alone to heal, (the incidental therapy that occurs), I am a product of previous professions driven by economic need.  I know the reality of many people’s and organisations’ need for quick and fiscally efficient results.  Thus, my art therapy is more directed.  I use the art process in direct relation to the clients’ goals.  I think carefully about qualities, about manipulation of the art, about process over product (although sometimes the product is also valuable), and about how my client can get the best insight, resolutions or ease in the shortest of time.  Although I would like to add time to grow and develop concepts into the mix, it seldom happens.  But last week, I was wonderfully surprised again, when I met an ‘old’ client, whom I was unconvinced about having made any gains in the four sessions assigned, well over a year ago.  She revealed how much her life had changed for the better and how truly grateful she was for the work we did together.  Wow.  It is so important to remember that most of the therapeutic change occurs outside of the session, and often well after we have finished working with the client. I liken it to the art sowing a number of tiny seeds in dark soil. The client can leave the last session with apparently no growth. After a few days or even weeks, tiny little leaves appear, some growth. At this stage, this growth is still too tiny, perhaps just a fuzzy mat of green,  to ascertain exactly what the plants are, but growth is apparent none-the-less.  In a few more weeks or months the plants begin to show their unique attributes, and the ways in which the landscape has changed is more identifiable.  If we imagine a barren plot, to a rich garden, the change is huge.  And often just because a person had the courage to seek counselling, and your facilitation helped him or her sow the seeds of change.

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2 Responses to “Art Therapy- incidental or directed?”

  1. bindiblacher Says:

    There is a certain amount of faith required, isn’t there? Sometimes you can be so aware of an internal process going on for the client, and sometimes you are left wondering if anything happened at all! It is a gift when some of the success stories come back around.
    Hey, so excited about this blog, Glenda…and the book!! Looking forward to some inspiration; both ways I hope!

  2. Thanks Bindi! I hope I can keep you inspired. Remember to feedback to me though. I can learn much from you too!


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