What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making within a professional relationship. You've probably heard that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Well, that's true. Especially if you are not sure what the best words are to describe your feelings, or if the way you've been saying things is part of the problem. By encouraging you to make a piece of art that describes, for instance, "What it feels like to be me," I offer you an opportunity to express yourself in a unique way. Quite often in my sessions people are surprised by what they see in their own artwork. It is as if their brain knows what to say, but needs a way to express itself. That insight is one of the tools that will enable you to break free of problems, overcome challenges, and begin moving in a more healthy direction.
If you are interested in art therapy, we begin with some simple drawings using crayons, pencils, and pens. If we decide that art therapy is a helpful tool for you, then we'll progress to painting, clay, or sand tray (see below). If you haven't drawn in a while, don't worry…we literally start out with scribbles. But you'd be surprised how different an "angry" scribble is from a "sad" or "calm" one, and how much conversation these simple scribbles can open up.
Is Art Therapy Just for Kids?
No, not at all…Art Therapy can benefit everyone. Most kids do love to draw and most adults I come across have forgotten to draw in years. I love using art with teens and adults as well as kids. The drawings that I help my clients create become like mirrors that can shine light on personality facets that we don't normally talk about. The art then becomes a springboard for deeper understanding and problem solving.
What is Sand Tray Therapy?
Sand Tray Therapy is a form of art therapy in which you choose from my huge collection of small figures, animals, houses, and others symbolic items to create a dream-like scene in a sand box or tray. The sand tray itself is just large enough to fill your field of vision, so that as you play you can become lost in the world you create. The symbolism works just like a powerful dream, in that the unconscious gets a chance to speak. Sand Tray therapy is excellent at pulling information out of your unconscious and making it accessible to you. Furthermore, unlike dreams, which can be hard to remember, the messages revealed in your sand tray stay with you. I have witnessed my clients find insights from the subtle to the profound, but virtually everyone discovers something about their inner selves when they enter the world of the Sand Tray.
Art Therapy in Juvenile Hall Video
For two years I was the lone "on-sight Mental Health guy" at a local juvenile detention facility. I was the first person to bring the practice of art therapy to these ever changing and always challenging groups of kids in the hall. One of the therapy pictures that you will see many examples of in this video is called the "Hand Portrait." In the Hand Portrait, I instruct the kids to trace their hand and then draw on the inside of the hand, "what it feels like to be you" and on the outside of the hand, "what the world feels like when it comes at you." My thanks to the kids who donated their artwork to me for the sake of education. I hope this video helps convey the expressive power of art therapy. Enjoy.