by KRYSTAL MCKENZIE
Art is one of the few universal experiences that connect us. It’s the unambiguousness of this modality that makes it so effective as a therapeutic tool. Art is a subjective experience. Yet the making of something so personal has the power to tap into memories and feelings on an idiosyncratic level.
Art therapy meshes a variety of creative mediums to allow for thoughts and feelings to be processed. The skilled therapist creates a safe space to help improve emotional wellbeing and mental health. This form of therapy is a unique way of exploring all aspects of the person.
Art therapy is a creative alternative to traditional talk psychotherapy. Instead of the client-therapist relationship being confined strictly to language, clients are welcome to create during their sessions using materials. This expression can function as a therapeutic catalyst for personal and interpersonal development, self-exploration and mental health maintenance.
Richelle Richards, art psychotherapist and owner of CAF Bermuda Art Therapy Services explained the practical benefits of this creative and flexible approach.
What can you expect in an art therapy session?
You don’t have to engage in the creative aspect of the session. If you find it uncomfortable using the various materials on hand, traditional talk therapy is also available. I found that providing this flexibility with my clients releases the anxiety of engaging with art materials.
My focus is to provide a safe space for my clients in a private, confidential environment to explore areas of themselves that they are struggling or unhappy with. I encourage my clients to think about their time with me as a partnership. Together we make a plan that will help them develop skills and strategies to reduce or manage stressors, anxieties and past biases.
It’s important to know that my sessions are not art classes and you don’t have to be ‘good at art’ to participate. There only needs to be a willingness to engage and show up for healing and growth.
Who can benefit from Art Therapy?
There is a misconception that art therapy sessions are just for children. My experiences have allowed me to work with all ages and genders. At present, I see children, adolescents and women.
My work addresses issues that affect young people such as managing peer relationships and academic stresses. This kind of therapy can also benefit victims of sexual or physical abuse, those that may have witnessed parental intimate violence, those with eating disorders and young people that engage in self harm practices as a coping mechanism.
On the other hand, some adult clients seek services to find grounding or for self-discovery, which in most cases are rooted in past traumatic experiences.
Since Covid-19, I have also started working with businesses and organisations to help support employees in releasing workplace stress, burnout, working through interpersonal staffing conflicts and a few other issues relating to promoting healthy and positive workplace environments.
Last thoughts on art therapy?
Art can be used to investigate and communicate thoughts and emotions that seem too complex or confusing to articulate by talking alone. If you have an inclination that you might need to speak with someone, do it. Therapy is a perfectly normal and valuable experience that works to many people’s benefits.
CAF has provided Bermuda with art therapy sessions since 2017, using a combination of indoor and outside therapeutic experiences. Along with art psychotherapy sessions, CAF also provides dance and movement therapy. Individual or groups sessions are also offered.
If you want to know more about art therapy, visit www.cafbermuda.com or email [email protected]