What is Therapeutic Art Counselling?
Art is therapeutic in its own right, yet when you combine art with Therapeutic counselling it is not about the end product but the process which you go through. What it reveals to you as an individual as your work becomes imbued with your spirit. Art is a wonderful rehearsal for transformation.
The Palette of the Soul
Art’s true function is to inspire us, mirror our thoughts, and embody our emotions. When words are not enough, we turn to image and symbol to speak for us. They are a conduit to all we contain within and a way of reflecting and recounting where we have been, where we are, and where we are going. Artistic expression is far more than self-expression and has much more astonishing power. Artistic creativity offers a source of inner wisdom that can provide guidance, soothe emotional pain and revitalise your being. More important, it is a wellspring that enlivens, rejuvenates, restores, and transforms and it exists within everyone for health and well-being. Expressing yourself in deceptively simple ways – through drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography- uncovers this natural medicine within. By tapping your creative source, your ability to express yourself through images, you come to know yourself more fully and deeply, access the intuitive powers within you to heal, and naturally nurture the soul. Quite simply, art is good for you and maybe as important to your overall health as balanced nutrition, regular exercise, or meditation. ( Excerpt from The Souls’ Palette by Cathy Malchiodi)
My experience so far is that the art I have produced for therapy is process-driven rather than goal-driven and by seeing what reveals itself to us naturally without being aware of it – is amazing! It is finding your inner voice which you may have switched off to. It is so powerful and cleansing when you don’t force the outcome. Art is a conduit to all we hold within ourselves which we may not even be aware of. It tells us where we have been, where we are and gives us voice to where we wish to be. Art is a safe place to practice change.
Recreational art has the ability to take us away from the noise of our everyday lives, it is mindful rests our mind and relaxes our body. It teaches us passive persistence that even if we do not have the skills or tools in the first place that we will gain them along the way with passive persistence, that indeed, everything goes through caterpillar before it becomes a butterfly. Therapeutic art is not about what others see but what we see as the individual creator and only once we see what is revealed can we become aware – awakened and bring about change.
We work in various mediums to evoke the Thinking Feeling and Willing realm within us, to provide us with balance. Hard materials such as drawing and stone are in our thinking realm because we think before acting. Wet on Wet Painting where we wet the page to receive the wet paint takes us to our emotional realm and materials such as clay help ground us, enable us to see things from all viewpoints as it is three dimensional. Clay also helps build our resilience and our life forces. Dynamic drawing not only engages our thinking feeling and willing realm but integrates them and helps provide us with balance flow and spacial awareness.
To date, there are discussions about our physical health and mental health and slowly we are realising that our spiritual health is just as important – our individuality and connection with all that surrounds. Our emotional realm can be seen as the present, our thinking realm can be seen as our past ie why am I feeling this way – when have I felt this way before, our will can be viewed as our future so how we bring our will in and respond rather than react can help shape our future. We can have a logical story and go round in circles, but my experience is that art revealed to me things my psyche had protected me from till I was strong enough to deal with it.
Suggested books to read
The Soul’s Palette by Cathy Malchiodi
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer