Art therapy

Maximising your therapy

One of the wonderful and useful things that we humans do is make associations between one thing and another. This helps us make sense of the world and our connection to it. Connecting things up is not only a sign of health (‘happiness’) but a path towards health. Doing that in the presence of an accepting other person is part of the benefit of therapy: it’s both creative and restorative, building a sense of wholeness or integration in us.

Freud discovered this and asked his clients to ‘Free Associate’ i.e. say one thing, and just say the next thing that came into mind without censoring. This is still valid today and all modern therapists who use an explorative approach (as opposed to, for example, CBT or NLP) encourage clients take this line.

What can be additionally useful is not to limit ourselves to words. Our language that developed over thousands of years is an amazing tool, but still has its limitations in expressing emotions and meaning. It can be helpful to make use of any non-verbal medium that inspires us or grabs us, however subtly.

For that reason, even though you and I may spend much of our time either talking or else in the pauses (sometimes longer than in everyday talk) within our conversation, I invite you to bear in mind the possibilities below.

Visual art, 2-D and 3-D
If there’s a picture, collage, sculpture etc that has come into your mind, bring it into the session.

If there’s a song that comes into your mind, bring it along, or we can access it (via Youtube etc) together.

If you play an instrument, or used to, or wanted to but didn’t, let me know. Bring it in.

Film, plays, novels, poems
If one of these comes into your mind, let me know.

Does that word make you shudder? Or leap about? Let me know.

Other art forms
If items in any other art-form some into your mind, let me know.

If none of these things come into your mind, ask me if any come into my mind in response to my meeting you.

These can be very evocative of our inner world and I encourage you at any time to bring in photos. These can be of you, particularly when young but also older, or of other people significant to you. It can be helpful especially to bring here photos of parents/caregivers and other family members.

In my therapy room there are various objects (and even in the plainest of rooms there are objects). It may be useful for us to notice together what attracts your eye.

Re-visiting things
If we do any of the above once or twice, it isn’t ‘all done’. We can make use of these single items multiple times.