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Art Therapy

Image by Karen Maes
Image by Anna Kolosyuk





Art Therapy facilitates a creative, therapeutic process that is based on psychotherapy and art expression. Given very diversified groups of clients, Art Therapists adopt a variety of theories in their work, including attachment-based psychotherapy, development theory, compassion-focused, cognitive analytic therapies and mindfulness.
A qualified Art Therapist provides their client a safe platform to freely express their thoughts and feelings through a vast number of different art materials. The client needs no prior experience of art work as the quality of the end result is immaterial. What matters is the path to creation, and to utilise it to process difficult feelings and to enforce a positive self image. The imagery produced is very diverse and provides the client a way to express feelings and experience that may be too complex or too hurtful to articulate. The process is very personal and the Art Therapist‘s role is to assist the client in identifying the meaning and purpose of the imagery being created.
Art Therapy clients are of different ages. Some are dealing with mental health issues while others have been traumatised, or are battling physical diseases or handicaps.
Art Therapy is provided both in private and group sessions.


History of art therapy

Over the centuries, image creation has played many roles, one of which has been a part of preventive health care and mental health care. Historically, imagery has been associated with the development of psychiatric science and psychology in the West. In the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, great developments took place in the fields of science, art and culture, which influenced the development of art therapy as an academic and professional discipline. An example is the humane treatment of mental patients. Various European psychiatrists wondered how their patients' artwork could be used for diagnosis and believed that the creative process could even help patients recover. Books and articles by European doctors were published about the artwork of patients. In the 19th century, a tradition was created in Europe that artists were hired to work with patients in mental hospitals. During World War II, artists, psychiatrists, and psychologists began to realize that visual expression was often the only way for soldiers and other victims of war to express their horrific experiences. The cooperation that developed between these professionals laid the foundation for the profession that art therapy has become today.


Until the 20th century, you can see how the work of artists began to connect to various institutions to help people with mental problems, where psychiatrists and psychologists were looking for new ways in their treatment of patients. This required artists to acquire knowledge within psychology and psychiatry. The theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl G. Jung had a great influence on the science in the beginning, but later there were developmental theories such as the theories of Eric Ericson, DWWinnicott, John Bowlby, Melanine Klein and others. Scholars such as Rodha Kellogg and Victor Lowenfeld studied how developmental trends appear in children's drawings. From 1945 onwards, writings about theories based on the uniqueness of art therapy as a treatment method began to appear. These include Adrian Hill, Irene Champernowne, Margaret Naumburg, Edith Kramer, Myra Levic, Rudolf Arnheim, and Arthur Robbins.


Now at the end of this century, recent research into the functioning of the brain has provided an even better knowledge and understanding of memory, how it stores information in pictorial form, and also of the so-called emotional memory that cannot be covered by reasoning. There has also been a better understanding of the effects of trauma on memory. Image creation has often helped to approach emotions related to traumas that are stored in the memory and continue to influence the individual's well-being and behavior. In this context, it should be pointed out that art therapists are often recruited abroad to work on trauma relief, for example in war-torn areas or where there have been natural disasters.

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