SO WHAT IS ART THERAPY AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM PSYCHOTHERAPY?
Like psychotherapy, the relationship between the therapist and client is of central importance, but Art Therapy differs from other psychological therapies in that it is a three way process between client, therapist and image. Art Therapy focuses on the integration and cohesion of the self with emphasis on the created image. It can be particularly helpful to people who either find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings verbally or who have a tendency to intellectualise. It can be seen as a way of repairing the injured sense of self. It’s primary purpose is for the client to get in touch with their unconscious mind and creative energy.
Creativity is a right brained activity and this part of the psyche communicates in image and symbols. The process of talking about their own work can lead to greater personal insight and self awareness. If there are hidden blocks or obstacles in the psyche then these often become manifest in the images created and there is more of a possibility for healing to take place than if they remain buried in the unconscious.
PSYCHODYNAMIC ART PSYCHOTHERAPY
Psychodynamic art psychotherapy also know as insight therapy, is a form of depth psychology, the primary focus of which is to reveal the unconscious contents of the client's psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. The goal is to help the client become aware/conscious of what feelings from the past are influencing their present behaviour, enabling healthier choices to be made.
The assumption that drives the psychodynamic approach is that the unconscious is one of the most powerful effects on emotion and behaviour in the present. Adults' emotions and behaviour in the present can be greatly affected by childhood experiences from the past.
The therapist offers an empathetic and non judgemental environment where the client can be safe in revealing feelings or actions that has lead to stress and difficulties in their life. Sharing these burdens in the context of a therapeutic relationship can be beneficial.
Psychodynamic art therapy emphasises the image which the client is encouraged to draw/paint or bring in dream form. Creativity is a right brained activity. The right brain is non verbal and communicates in images, symbols and dreams. With the help of the left brain, images can be processed into words. This process may deliver insights which can help raise consciousness and self awareness.
Art can be a healing process. It can be used to alleviate or contain feelings of trauma, fear or anxiety and also to repair, restore and heal. In his work with patients and in his own personal explorations, C.G. Jung wrote that art expression and images found in dreams could be helpful in recovering from trauma and emotional distress.
BENEFITS OF PSYCHODYNAMIC ART THERAPY
It Is effective for a wide range of mental health symptoms, including depressions, anxiety, panic and stress related physical ailments, trauma and dissociation and the benefits of the therapy grow after the treatment has ended according to research published in 2010 by the American Psychological Association. Furthermore it has been shown that this type of self examination can lead to continued emotional growth over time. In the last decades there has been significant research validating this approach.
This approach treats obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, psychosomatic disorder, phobias, anxiety, identity problems, trauma, relationship issues, sexual problems.