WHAT IS ART THERAPY?
Art therapy is an expressive psychotherapy that uses hands-on making – of images, objects, patterns, and other creative expressions – as a way to bring about healing and change. Art therapy is not only for children, teens, and artists! Every adult is a creative being who still dreams at night, draws on napkins, and solves puzzles. Unlike traditional talk therapies, art therapy directly accesses imagery and patterns beyond the realm of language – although talking may still be part of the therapeutic process.
Recent neurobiological research on the brain has shown that hands-on making has a unique capacity to help us integrate experiences, especially traumatic experiences, into coherent stories and memories. The act of making images, responding to sensations, and forming patterns and symbols stimulates our innate creativity, which helps us to interpret, order, and make meaning out of difficult emotional dilemmas. Hands-on making activates the right-left brain integration that promotes emotional regulation. Art therapy is like calisthenics for the mind: it strengthens the intuitive and cognitive aspects of self. It is a body/mind practice that integrates the layers of our experiences, putting us in touch with our capacity to heal.