"ART THERAPY COMBINES THE CREATIVE PROCESS AND PSYCHOTHERAPY, FACILITATING SELF-EXPLORATION AND UNDERSTANDING. USING IMAGERY, COLOUR AND SHAPE AS PART OF THIS CREATIVE THERAPEUTIC PROCESS, THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS CAN BE EXPRESSED THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE DIFFICULT TO ARTICULATE." (Canadian Art Therapy Association, 2014)
Art therapy engages our senses in a way that words cannot. It can be a powerful aid in developing insight into our lives. It encourages both verbal and non-verbal recognition and communication of our cognitive, emotional and sensorimotor processing. As a result, it promotes mindfulness, self-acceptance, compassion and the opportunity for repair and healing.
We first experience the world through our five senses. Some of these experiences are processed and get translated into verbal language... some, are not. Those memories can remain with us in their original sensory understanding, and cannot be accessed by using words. Art therapy facilitates not only access to these memories, but it also provides a visual and tangible language of images, colours, lines and texture that aids processing. Growth on a personal level can be achieved through the use of either prompted or spontaneous creative expression in a safe and facilitated environment.
Because of this non-verbal, creative approach to the sessions, art therapy can facilitate alternative perspectives to one's life. Clients can choose a variety of art materials as tools to explore and express their feelings and thoughts. Then, through observation and conversation, the clients get the opportunity to create alternate narratives to their experience, therefore leading to different perspectives. The art therapist does not 'analyze' a clients art, or tells them how they should go about their lives. Instead, the therapist helps the client explore their own experiences and empowers them to find their own solutions.