Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This is Not Art Therapy

Someone used to teach the Art Therapy class. They don't anymore. I am the intern and I had taken a few classes in Expressive Arts Therapies as an undergraduate so I said I would do it. I even have a bunch of art therapy books that have somehow survived the years for reference. I am not a therapist. I am an intern. So it's Process Group instead of Therapy.

I skimmed the texts again and found so many great ideas. For this group though, it would have to be pretty basic. Who knew who would show up, if anyone? I prepped the room with chairs around the table. I also supplied a stack of a handy mandala (circle) I found on the internet that is a wheel divided into pie pieces with words like this on it:

Health Care
Life Purpose
   Self Esteem   

The words are toward the outside of the wheel but still within the circle. The words Self Care are in the very center. Not for any other reason than that they inspired me to think about these aspects of my life.

On the table next to my black and white internet printouts were supplies. Nothing fancy, but the basics. Basics are all you need, if you ask me. My theory is simply that when you let it, the art will come. So it was crayons and pens and pastels and paper.

There is therapy in making art. The process of getting out of your busy little brain to make pretty shapes or disturbing shapes or whatever it is you're making can be a good diversion. 

Since I am not a therapist, I am not asking the people in the group to dialogue with their art to discover what it might be trying to say to them. I am not asking them about the shapes or the use of certain colors in certain places. 

Instead, I grabbed some crayons and paper and got busy coloring a mandala myself. I listened and helped direct the conversation to what was happening right now, helping frame attainable goals to larger dilemmas and simply enjoy the humanizing camaraderie of making art with other people.

It was a good day. 


  1. This is great. It actually sounds like some perfect therapy (even though it's not therapy). A place to put those thoughts that might be hard to express, and a chance to see some new perspectives to one's own dilemmas just by hanging out and practicing some hand-eye coordination via paper and utensil - along with the support of a guide.

  2. That sounds great. Art is a good way to express yourself or just let go and have fun. We have had a well attended art group at our youth service center for the last six months or so. It is amazing how much talent people have. Processing is what we do in therapy so no matter what title it is given, you are helping people.

  3. Jessica you are doing so many amazing and cool things these days. What I like most about art therapy is how your mind stops worrying about other things in order to focus on the task at hand. I have always thought clients enjoyed it for this reason. I dont think we have to analyze everything, its good to let them just be creative.