Sweet Emotions Counseling, 1333 Arapaho, Suite A, Springdale, AR, 72764, Tel: 479.871.5426

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What is Art Therapy?


Art therapy is a therapeutic modality in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media and the creative process, resulting in artwork that explores the client's feelings: many times subconsciously. This occurs, while asking the client to look at an issue in a different light. – Adapted from the American Art Therapy Association


Who can benefit from Art Therapy?


The short answer is anyone. Clients reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce grief, anxiety or depression, as well as increase self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-reliance. A goal of art therapy is to improve, or restore, a client’s functioning, and their sense of personal well-being. As a therapeutic modality, Art Therapy involves visual and verbal processing that gives the therapist unique insight and amazing tools to reach core issues. The client and therapist is able to explore negative patterns and set forth a new way to approach difficult situations. Art Therapy is effective in individual, family and group settings.


How is Art Therapy different than other modalities?


Art therapy differs from many therapeutic modalities because the client's finished piece is something tangible: Something that can be displayed, or put away. Either way, the client is able to return to the work at a later date, and reflect on the piece again at a different place in their life. One may see something totally different in it's meaning that was not intended at the initial conception, or possibly see where they came from in their journey, and the progress they have made. Often times, for this very reason, we will return to previous work for processing the initial issue.



Art Therapy and Adolescents...



Children and teens are able to creatively communicate in a safe manner, sharing their inner thoughts and fears in an emotionally safe zone. Expression through different mediums allows adolescents to safely reflect how they see the world through their art. In addition, children are able to explain the way they see themselves, how they believe others see them, and how they interact in the world; safely conveying the tough issues that have derailed their emotional growth. Art Therapy allows troubled teens to share and understand things about themselves that they may otherwise find difficult to express.



"I cannot draw."


Oh... how many times I have heard this? And, my answer is always the same: "Yes, you can draw. You can also work with clay, make collages, make puppets, take photographs, write, and paint." Will you become the next Michelangelo? I cannot answer that, however, that is not the point. We will not be producing artwork to be displayed at Chrystal Bridges, or the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The interventions, or projects, do not require artistic talent, but only a willingness to open up, be honest, and take a positive risk when confronting new situations. In fact, many times I have witnessed that being a "professional artist" can get in the way of spontaneous growth. This is not to say artist cannot proceed with art therapy, but you may be challenged to open up in a way that may not always be comfortable, when you fall back on what you know.


"But really... I cannot draw."


More than likely, you created art as a child. Unfortunately, our Western culture, does not hold art making in the highest regard. Many other cultures still do. So, maybe you once had someone tell you that you cannot draw, and this has stuck with you. This would fall into the category of discouragement. I practice Adlerian Therapy, and Alfred Adler would say that "discouragement is at the heart of all pathology". Together, we will work through any fears or challenges you may face, and if you are open and honest, find the root of your discomfort. For most clients I have worked with, the creative process is not nearly as difficult as the act of slowing down, and experiencing the process. This is extremely true when working with alcoholics and addicts, who must have something, and have it right now. The self-knowledge you acquire will help to set you free, and facilitate learning coping skills you will utilize for the rest of your life. 

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