The language of visual art – colors, shapes, lines and images – speaks to us in ways which words cannot. Art therapy is a modality that uses the nonverbal language of art for personal growth, insight and transformation, and is a means of connecting what is inside us – our thoughts, feelings and perceptions – with our outer realities and life experiences. It is based on the belief that images can help us understand who we are and enhance life through self-expression. It can be a spiritual journey where the unconscious mind helps to create visual images to facilitate thoughts and feelings to gain new insight.
Carl Jung, known for his interest in visual symbols in dreams and art, noted the importance of images in therapy. He observed that by allowing a mood or problem to become personified or by representing it as an image through dreams or art, we can begin to understand it more clearly and deeply and to experience the emotions that are contained within it. Art making can help us express fear, anxiety and other stressful emotions.
Researchers have discovered recently that traumatic experiences become encoded in the mind in the form of images, almost like a camera taking a photograph. Therefore, visual art may offer a unique way to express traumatic images, bringing them to consciousness in a less threatening way than words.
Art Therapy is not about being an “artist”, (no artistic talent is needed) rather it is the willingness to express feelings and thoughts using materials such as markers, crayon, pastel, collage, and/or clay. It is a wonderful tool that helps us to tap into our intuition and problem-solving abilities.