Art Therapy (photos)

  I started doing art therapy for myself because it is something I want to do in the future. I know that I personally have a lot of work on myself and my education to do before I can accomplish that goal. So to start bettering my mental health I took more time to paint. To draw or sketch out ideas that I have while out and about or when purposefully taking time to relax and create. I have been through so many things that seem to be so bad that even my friends hear the movie script like scenarios and seem baffled. I seem to be a chaos addict without even consciously realizing it- so I'm turning back to what I did before all the chaos hit. Before the sexual assaults, before all the grieving, before the harassment, before the divorce of my parents, before the switching of school, and so forth. I know how to do a lot of things when it comes to the arts thanks to my mother- I tried to teach myself a lot of things as well. If you ask her, I have a love of learning. Painting, knitting, sewing, embroidering, photography, collaging, pottery on a wheel or pinched by hand. I was impressed by all the things she did back then with her crafts and work so I decided to try a bunch of different forms of art too. Never truly perfecting any of them yet but I would always try and do a few here and there. I didn't have the true appreciation or patience to really sit down and do these things day after day- they were more of a filler for my free time. I have more of both of those now though thankfully, which made me decide I truly do want to spend a good few years pursuing this career for myself.

Art Therapy is something that I truly believe improves the lives of anyone involved in the creative process of it. When with my most recent therapist, she had me redraw the man who assaulted me- his clothes, his hair color, the glasses, plus whatever detail I felt important and needed adding. I drew it on a blank piece of paper with colors pencils, I also did the same for a happy place I can think about when stressed out. By drawing, painting, coloring, or sculpting with clay it can help the person doing so express themselves better. It does so in an artistic way that allows them to then explore the mental and emotional meanings within their art. Sometimes sitting down in front of someone and just speaking about your problems can be hard, so using art to essentially decode all the nonverbal things found within the art can be the go-to instead for understanding your own feelings. Which then allows you to move into the part of going deeper to resolve the issues. That will probably still be hard to do, but at least with art there to help, it won't be so bad. I noticed this type of therapy was used a lot in Law & Order SVU episodes that involved bad things happening to children. Children don't always have the words that us adults do to describe their feelings or what happened, maybe they don't even truly know what happened so they, of course, wouldn't know how to use words to talk about it. With children all the way to adults, it can be used for many reasons like to improve your self-esteem, relieve your stress, cope with illnesses, improve your anxiety or depression, and more. It's found to be used in more than just a therapist office or within the script of SVU- places like senior centers, community organizations, hospitals, and correctional institutions use it too. There are actually a few places in Cincinnati and Chicago that I know that use art to help people, it's not exactly always called therapy but truly if it makes you feel better mentally or emotionally, I'd consider it the same. No one that practices any artistic thing with the idea of therapy in mind has to also be some incredible artist. Believe me, that drawing I did of the Hobby Lobby guy (that's how he's referred to in my family) was barely a step above a stick figure. You don't have to be Van Gogh or Monet because truthfully, art therapy isn't about the level of the profession when it comes down to it. It's about the therapeutic process, dissecting and connecting in a way the creative choices that were made by the person doing it and their inner life. Whether it's there to trigger memories may be forgotten, pull something from your unconscious or subconscious mind, or to tell a story that may reveal something you didn't realize yourself. I never knew using pages from a coloring book would intrigue me to want to pursue my own path towards that path of therapy, but I'm also sort of shocked I've never thought of it before.

  I thought of art therapy because a therapist I once saw at my city's mental health services let me color in a mandala while talking to her. My social worker stood up for me when I was doodling and my anxiety set. She knew it was just me distracting my anxiety instead of my foot bouncing or me twisting my rings around my fingers. She also knew I was still paying attention to what was going on around me, I just needed some sort of distraction to the anxious thoughts in my brain so I could focus better. I knew I wanted to do painting though because that is my best and favorite form of it. So when I found out that the University of Cincinnati offered a Pre-Art Therapy course to major in, I was really happy about it. When I ended up talking to the therapist I was seeing a while back about that idea of a career path, she filled me in on what was probably best for me. Go to college for therapy in general, so I could one day run a practice like I want to, but take classes regarding art-therapy. There was a bit more information exchanged but it really helped me figure out the path I want to take.

  It'll require a lot of schooling, which isn't something I love although I love learning. I hoping my love of art, learning, and overwhelming want to help people (even when they don't ask for it) pushes past the problems I have involving school. I truly hope and aim towards getting my Ph.D., no matter how long that takes, plus classes and other licenses I'll be needing to include with all of that- it means a lot of time and work. I truly believe art therapy is worth it though, art is such a connecting thing in many ways that I think people don't even realize. Soon I'll be posting a piece talking about how art therapy has helped me personally, in hopes that others can understand more than just the facts behind why this therapy can work. As stated in my other post regarding alternative forms of therapy, which you can find here, there are many different forms for people to try. I know for a fact I can't learn things simply by reading them, although I love reading books. I learn by seeing things, feeling them out for myself, and other ways- so being able to throw on some music and paint an image depicting what I'm feeling works better for me. It's the best way for me to be more vulnerable with things, I'm really that great at truly opening up by speaking, even though that's not how it seems.

 To learn more about art therapy or to even find an art therapist for yourself or a loved one, you can go to the American Art Therapy Association. There's no shame in therapy, as I've gotten older I've realized everyone can use a therapist.

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