The benefits of Art Therapy are so compelling that I began my work as a clinician in this area. In particular, I was interested in the power of the creative process as a healing force. This concept is discussed often but to experience the process on either end of the equation is the only way to know it.
Here’s how I came to know it:
When I was in college and took a survey course in art therapy and was assigned to a school for the fieldwork component. I was asked to assist children who were withdrawn or disruptive by using art materials in small group settings. A young boy continually tried to enter every group I worked with. When it was finally his turn, he came in with a vengeance. This eight-year-old was more like an angry 16-year-old. But when given a few crayons, the picture he drew was of a tiny person not even an inch in size. Near the tiny figure was a figure gigantic in comparison. When I asked the boy what the picture was about he replied that the monster would not let the little boy get to his home. So, I asked him what he could put in the picture to help the little boy. He drew a second monster and shared that the two monsters were fighting and so the boy could run past and get inside.
Why is this story so compelling to me?
Even though that little boy felt powerless at the beginning of the drawing exercise, he had found a solution in the story he had created through art. No one gave him the idea, no one drew the picture for him. He found within himself the strength, creativity, and strategic thinking to solve the immediate problem.
Did it change his life? Probably not that day.
Did it change the way he felt about himself? Yes. He stopped being disruptive in class, he began to show enjoyment in what he was doing.
There were many contributing factors of course but creativity opens worlds of possibility not only in behavior, but in self-esteem, reduction of anxiety, finding solutions, understanding one’s own feelings, and making sense of the world.
That was enough to inspire me to go to graduate school and begin my career as an art therapist.
Art Therapy is not only for children and it’s not only used in school settings. It is for all ages and is appropriate in all settings.
I offer Art Therapy as adjunctive therapy, a primary therapy, and as another tool in my toolbox when I work with individuals in counseling and coaching appointments.
For more information about Art Therapy and my whole-person approach, schedule a complimentary 20-minute Zoom or phone consultationhttps://calendly.com/lizglerner or leave me a message at 202-827-3448.