What is Art Therapy?
Updated: Sep 10
By Alexandra McCarthy, Co-Founder of Wildflowers, Psychologist and Art Therapist
Art Therapy is exactly what the name depicts - using both art and therapy as a way to explore one’s internal and external landscape.
The primary goal of the art activity is that it must be working towards a therapeutic outcome. Art Therapy is often another form of therapy, the focus predominately being on the creative expression. What many people don’t realise (and it’s often the thing that holds many people back) is that you don’t need to be good at art. When engaging in an art therapy session, the focus is not on the final piece, rather it is on what arises within you throughout the process.
Art Therapy aims to access and tap into the right section of one’s brain - the aspect of your brain more connected to emotions, imagination, holistic thinking, intuition, arts, rhythm and nonverbal cues. The reason being, is that many of us use the left section of one’s brain, which is connected to logic and reasoning to bypass something we might be feeling. For example, if our partner was to end our relationship, we may say to ourselves “it’s alright – there are many other individuals out there”. In this example, instead of tapping into our right brain and “feeling”, we are using our left brain to make sense of it and bypass the feeling because sometimes to ‘feel’ it all becomes too much. However, for an individual to begin to heal or process a memory/event, both the left and right sections of our brain need to connect. Although many may try to numb or block out particular feelings or events, the inevitable is we can’t think without feeling and we can’t feel without thinking – the two go hand in hand.
Engaging in Art Therapy allows you to gently tap into your right brain and express yourself in ways that words can’t always do justice. It is simply a meeting ground between one’s inner and outer world.