"Our Hope" Artwork created by adults on the inpatient unit at Rhode Island Hospital in the art therapy group.
Art is for kids. I don't do art. I am a terrible artist. I draw like a three year old. These are just a few of the comments that I have heard more times than I can count when I mention art therapy to my clients.
I actually love hearing these words. I immediately feel a rush of excitement that I may have the opportunity to show someone the power of art and reawaken their hidden inner creativity.
When I was working in the psychiatric hospital setting with adults, I became an expert at talking people into trying to create something for the sake of creating. I would tell them that it doesn't matter what the end product looks like, what matters is what you experience through the process of making something. Even a scribble on a page can express something unique.
What I always found mind-blowing was when I gave an entire room of adults the exact same art materials and the exact same instructions and each person would create something completely unique. It is so amazing to me that each and every person in the world has their very own unique experience and personality. I believe that art has the power to illuminate a glimpse into an individual's experience which can bring greater understanding and empathy to the viewer. Especially in the therapeutic relationship, whether in group therapy or one on one counseling, it can be a powerful experience to be seen and honored for who you are through something that you have created.
I am finding that humankind is starting to move away from art-making where in historically art was respected for its story-telling ability. Now we tell stories through our computers and phones. This can be viewed as a type of creative expression, but I don't think that it has the same value as cathartically putting your unique mark on a page. As an art therapist, I can only hope that I can bring new life to art and new art to life through encouraging people to create.
I was elated to see that Psychology Today published an article on the therapeutic benefits of art and proposed that art is for everyone.