Arts Therapy, what is it?
Arts therapy uses creative processes, including art-making, drama, and dance/movement within a therapeutic relationship to improve and enhance physical, emotional and mental well-being. Arts therapy can be offered to people of all ages and abilities and embraces a variety of psychotherapy theoretical frameworks. The emphasis is on the process of creating and making meaning rather than on the end product. This type of therapy can be practised with individuals and with groups, families and communities.
How does arts therapy work?
Arts therapy is based on the belief that the process of engaging creatively in drama, dance/movement or art-making within a therapeutic relationship supports changes in one’s inner and outer world.
The process of using creativity can help us to access our deeper unconscious thoughts and feelings and to express them non-verbally and symbolically in a form that makes them visible. Participants do not need to have prior experience of the creative modalities.
Arts therapists usually specialise in one of the creative modalities, however, they may utilise a combination of artistic expressions; depending on the intentions and experience of the person or people they are working with. The therapist supports the process of finding meaning in the creative expression/s and exploring ways to understand and integrate this growth.
The open studio processes gives opportunity for participants to use art making effectively as a safe, powerful, and reliable medium for personal exploration and growth. Participants learn how to turn to their own creativity in order to increase self-awareness, empathy, and clarity in transitional times or challenge in areas of their lives.
Participants and facilitators work alongside each other as fellow artists from the very start.
The facilitator's ability to navigate the creative process becomes an essential reference point for class participants. Observing a fellow artist giving him/herself over to the creative process and truly benefiting from it, the participants gain the confidence they need to try things out for themselves. During the art-making session, participants can observe facilitators exploring, experimenting, and problem-solving through their art and writing. As artists-in-residence, facilitators model their willingness to take risks and demonstrate their trust in the creative process.
The fact that facilitators and participants work together as co-artists has important repercussions for the power relationship between teacher and student. Participants have a chance to view the facilitator as a fellow human being with similar struggles, rather than as an authority figure. A vital element of our process is the "No Comment" rule: neither facilitators nor participant’s comments on each others artwork – ever.
The open studio process establishes intention, moves to art-making, through to witness writing and concludes with an opportunity to share.
A person's creative process will guide them, in its own time and its own way, as each person gains the ability to be open to it.