Using Healing Arts
in Therapy

Using Healing Arts in Therapy

Thu, Sep 10, 2020 | HLCTN Editorial Team

Using Healing Arts in Therapy

Even if you’re not an art therapist, supplementing
with creative arts can add to your practice.

Even if you’re not an art therapist, supplementing with creative arts can add to your practice.

Many therapists are drawn to healing arts.

While art therapy is its own credentialed field, that doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate creative activities into your practice.

You shouldn’t market yourself as a credentialed art therapist if you’re not one. However, these supplemental tools can be a way to add value to your current practice. Consider these benefits and techniques of creative healing.

Healing Arts Can
Help Teach Concepts

Healing Arts Can Help Teach Concepts

Many counselors provide psychoeducation as a key component of therapy.

Understanding how emotions and processing works can go a long way in helping clients help themselves. Using play and creativity to teach these topics can also help ideas stick, as many adults and most children learn faster this way.

It can also decrease the stress sometimes present in therapy.

Creativity Can
Decrease Stress

Creativity Can Decrease Stress

Encouraging clients to use creative juices can help them cope and lighten stressful situations.

Studies have shown that simply using adult coloring books can have emotional benefits, and this can be a good place for clients to start. Branching out from that can take many forms, and may be unique to each client.

Or, staying within the safe field of adult coloring books or paint-by-numbers for adults may be enough.

Art Skills Can
Build Confidence

Art Skills Can Build Confidence

Using Healing Arts in Therapy

Learning a new skill, or summoning the courage to try something different can go a long way in improving self-esteem.

Trying a new activity or actually creating a finished product can create a visual reminder of productivity and success.

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Expression Helps with
Managing Emotions

Expression Helps with Managing Emotions

For some clients, art can help them express and calm emotions.

They can start by using any form of art to reflect how they’re currently feeling.

This can stay within the abstract field of free expression, or can be supplemented with talk therapy to discuss the feelings and experiences that come up.

This can be left there, or followed with intentional work to alter the emotional state. For example, a client could draw a picture of how they feel currently.

After fully validating and expressing that emotion, they can then draw a picture of how they want to feel, and create a plan to get to that feeling.

In most cases, it’s helpful to allow clients to steer this change process.

Fun Activities Can
Supplement Goals

Fun Activities Can Supplement Goals

Using Healing Arts in Therapy

Nearly any goal your client is working on can be supported in a creative form. Here are some examples of commonly used creative activities you could incorporate into sessions or homework:

  • Collaging, or vision boarding. Clients can start with a theme or simply free form this activity. A simple way to create a vision board is to start with a bulletin board. Clients can pin up words, magazine pictures, and affirmations that support their goals. This can be modified for many different purposes.
  • Abstract art. For clients who are focused on creating a “perfect” finished product, playing with abstract art where there is no perfection can be a great exercise. There are many ways to create beautiful art while giving up control, like with art pouring (pouring acrylic mixes onto a paper or canvas for an abstract result).
  • Mindful movement. There are several types of natural, mindful movement that clients can practice in session or on their own. Examples include free form or ecstatic dance, or Interplay, a guided program where clients can explore play and freedom.
  • Listening to music. Music can come in the form of listening, creating, or both. Clients can start with creating a playlist of songs that speak to a specific mood. Clients may have an “anger” track, a “sad” track or “inspirational” list of songs. They can make use of these to meet their moods, and then follow them up with tracks of how they want to feel, to help change their moods if they’re ready.
  • Creating new music. Trying a new instrument, or starting with a simple form like basic beats can help activate different areas of the brain. Just like with visual arts, the satisfaction and confidence of trying or creating something new can be invaluable. If clients become frustrated, then working through these feelings can also be informative.
  • Social art. Sometimes art can be a way to respond to overwhelming events, fears or pressures. Putting these feelings into a tribute or visual form can help aid in healing and making sense of a situation.
  • Intuitive painting. This is a process of meditative painting, that allows for the art to create itself, in a sense. Rather than planning or working towards a finished product, the client stays in the moment and creates based on instinct.
  • Drawing mandalas. Mandalas were widely used by Carl Jung, in both his own development and with clients. Mandalas can be intricate or simple, and represent forms of the psych, similar to intuitive painting, but within a basic structure.

This is but one short list of the hundreds of variations of healing arts that can be used in therapy.

These can be helpful skills that clients can learn and then take with them outside sessions.

Incorporating these options into your services can help attract new clients and add meaning to their experiences.

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