Why choose art therapy?

For a very long time in human history, people have used various art forms (e.g. painting, writing, singing, story telling) to express and to survive their sufferings and to accompany them in periods of passage and transformation.

Art therapy can be seen in light of this history. Deploying art in such periods of change can thus be considered as being part of various cultures' survival strategies (which are often elaborated in reaction to crises) linking individuals' sufferings to aesthetic manifestations.

In addition, there is another important aspect of why one would use various art mediums in therapy. Artistic forms of expression may allow persons to express e.g. fears, concerns, memories, traumata, which might be hard to formulate in words, or that a client is not aware of, but which may emerge in form of a painting, and will serve the client and the therapist as a way of non-verbal communication within a safe and protected environment.

Furthermore, becoming active by sculpting, drawing, writing about one's life (for example anxieties, dreams, sadness) may as a consequence empower the client and thus can represent a means of giving form to something that might have been impossible to speak of. In connection with psychodynamic talking therapy, the emerging art works will help to more deeply understand a client's personal issues.

And finally, some clients may (re)discover certain art forms, which may accompany them outside the art therapeutic sessions, or may even become part of their life after having ended their therapeutic follow-up. Artistic expressions can therefore be understood as a potential resource for human beings, which is accessible most of the time, and which may become an aesthetic response during difficult, as well as during better times.

Theoretical framework

The theoretical framework of my approach to art therapy is to be found in the realm of phenomenology, which is a discipline of philosophy. This means that one studies things as they are, how an image, a movement shows itself "as it is" and in the present context in art therapy. The therapist will thus not provide an interpretation, but consider it as a personal form of creative expression.

Throughout the art-therapeutic process personal issues, from painful to delightful, may appear in writing, painting, movement and will be addressed through art and in joint discussion with the therapist. The emphasis is put on working with each patient's individual resources, through working in creative mediums and through talking.

My approach to talking therapy is to be found in psychodynamic therapy where the aim is to gain a greater awareness, insight and understanding of one's often unconscious ways of acting and carrying one-self and towards self and others. Thus the underlying reasons for such behavioural patterns may be explored through art and words in order to shed light on, and to make sense of unhealthy responses in life. Thereafter, as a consequence, new behavioural patterns may be discovered and a more helpful mindset can be acquired.