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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is art therapy for everyone or is it only helpful to certain types of people?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • Karen Adler

    Arts Therapist

    I am a Transpersonal Art Therapist, an artist, writer, curator and researcher. I am a firm believer in the inherent healing qualities of the Arts. … View Profile

    Art is universal, all societies and cultures make art in one form or another. As children, drawing, playing, making things, telling stories is natural to us but these activities are socialised out of most people as we grow older. Hence, many of us lose the healing, expressive, playful aspects of ourselves quite early. Art therapy can benefit everyone but is particularly valuable for people who are highly intellectual and who get stuck in the verbal, who can’t see their way out of internal conflicts, lose themselves in words and rationalisations. Conversely, it’s also particularly useful for those who don’t have verbal skills, such as children who can’t put words to their feelings but who can express themselves in paintings, drawings.

  • Anonymous

    I think art therapy is something that has to be tried first.   I have two university degrees and we only touched on art therapy a little during all those years of study and I enjoyed it immensely.
    My personal opinion is that you don't necessarily have to be “arty” to gain some benefits from this experience.
    I think anyone who is struggling emotionally should open their hearts to all new experiences…..you might just be surprised and delighted!

  • Cait Wotherspoon

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Registered Nurse

    Indigo Counselling & Psychotherapy is a private practice operated by Cait Wotherspoon, an experienced, highly dedicated and qualified psychotherapist. My passion lies in helping clients … View Profile

    I use Art Therapy in my practice and I totally agree with Karen Adler (above).  I have worked with many varied clients using art therapy. I have worked with CEOs who have found it useful. I have clients both young and old and it works particularly well with families who have been able to communicate through their art in the therapy room, which made it easier to talk with each other at home.

    As Karen has said, it works particularly well with highly intellectual people. It's a way of getting to the unconscious, understanding and moving through your feelings.As we grow older we do lose the skill of play, art and creativity.

    As children we learnt how to problem solve through doing these activities but sadly societies norms compel us not to use these gifts. You don't have to be good at art, it's about the process of making the artwork that's important.

  • Bruce Jenkins

    Psychologist, Psychotherapist

    ABOUT BRUCE Registered psychologist since 1991 Broadly Humanistic approach with special interest in Person Centred therapy Over sixteen years experience as a supervisor Taught Counselling … View Profile

    Sometimes the huge range of different approaches to healing and therapy can be confusing.
    Yet that diversity is really a great strength as it means people seeking support for change in their lives can investigate different approaches to find one that fits their needs.

    When I was teaching Counselling students at Swinburne University, I used to illustrate this by asking the class whether they thought there should be just one style of jeans. 'Of course not' was the invariable reply, ‘People are different shapes!’. Same with therapeutic approaches: you need to find an approach and practitioner with whom you feel comfortable (that is, safe) and with whom you think you can work.

    Good luck with whichever approach you try!

  • 3

    Thanks

    My name is Catherine and I completed my counselling studies at the Australian Catholic University. As a Counsellor, I have worked in Australia, England, Rwanda, … View Profile

    Hi there, 

    Thank-you for your question. I think it is a question that many people wonder about when they think of art therapy, so, thank-you for asking. 

    I find that art therapy is very adaptive in that everyone can benefit from the art-making process in expressing themselves. What is so wonderful about art therapy is that there are many ways individuals can share how they are feeling through both an external and visual representation/object - which the client creates. Put simply, the art therapist is there to guide the client through the art process, in helping the client to both explore and understand how one might be feeling and why, especially when someone may be struggling verbally. 

    In case you are wondering, no, you do not have to be arty or creative in order to benefit from art therapy. I think for art therapy to be beneficial, clients just need to be curious, and willing to experiment expressing themselves creatively, and in a way that is comfortable for them. I hope this helps. 

    Thanks,
    Catherine 

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