Paints and coloured pencils are not the only materials we provide and use during our art psychotherapy (art therapy) sessions. We strive to provide a wide variety of materials to give our clients deeper and richer experiences. Why do we do so?
Traditional art materials in art therapy may be intimidating for new clients.
Clients new to art therapy might not have engaged in art-making since leaving school. Our registered art psychotherapists choose to use materials that might be less stressful for them or suggest materials they may be familiar with.
For example, creating a picture collage using magazine cutouts may be easier to handle. It does not require any ‘artistic skills’ aside from cutting and pasting. This makes it easier for our clients to express themselves and process their thoughts visually, eventually giving them the confidence to explore and experiment with other materials.
Different art materials offer different therapeutic qualities.
Different materials have different qualities that evoke certain emotions. An important aspect when supporting our clients in their therapy journey is considering the following:
Is this material suitable for evoking sensory stimulation? Will it allow freedom of expression? Is this the right time to experience mastering a particular art material? Will this material be overwhelming for my client? Will this support my clients in grounding them?
For clients experiencing confusion or overwhelming emotions, our art psychotherapists introduce materials that allow more control. This helps clients get a better sense of containment, using drawing or colouring materials such as pencils, colour pencils, oil pastels and markers.
Clients who experience dissociation due to past trauma may also be introduced to materials that evoke sensory stimulation. Their right brain, which is responsible for emotional regulation and communication, is activated and allows them to be in touch with their emotions. Materials that allow for sensory stimulation may include slime, clay, acrylic paint, watercolour and even water itself.
Art therapy is not simply painting and drawing. Using different materials allows us to meet the specific needs of our clients. A variety of other materials is always available to them. We consider our client’s needs and therapeutic goals when introducing various materials.
Using materials in unconventional ways relieves tension and aids transformation.
Tearing paper, hammering wood or pounding dough may provide release from tension in a safe and acceptable manner. These materials provide our clients with creative control for destruction and allow transformation to take place. For example, transforming the torn pieces into an artwork that makes sense to them may form a crucial process in emotional regulation and healing.
Sometimes, we also introduce materials that allow symbolic transformation such as recycled objects or found materials. Found materials can vary from bottle caps, an old toy or even a storybook.
When these materials are given new meaning and forms, it encourages clients to reflect on their personal challenges. Such transformation can help them to see things differently and give new meaning to the challenges they face. It also provides the opportunity for them to work towards closure, resolution and move forward in life.
For more information on the importance of having a variety of materials made available during art psychotherapy sessions, check out our video below:
Art Psychotherapy at Solace
At Solace, our registered art therapists have at least Masters qualifications and a minimum of 750 hours of clinical supervision, in accordance with the requirements of the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapies Association (ANZACATA).
We deliver competent therapy services through ethical, safe and empathetic art psychotherapy interventions with the aim of building emotional resilience. With our guidance, we are confident in helping teenagers and adults identify, process and work through difficulties to emerge stronger and be who they truly are.
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