The Inspired Guide - Issue #9

Page 86

Lifestyle Extra With Guest Sue Norman ART THERAPY Art therapy is simply using art to explore feelings and manage behaviours. It’s suitable for all ages with no need for artistic skills. Art therapy can assist people to become more self-aware and increase their self-esteem while potentially functioning with more ease in day-to-day living. Art opens up the natural creative centre we have within that helps keep us balance while dealing with all the mental structures and beliefs we have in our daily life. Without art and creative activities, we shut down our innate creative nature and many of our natural coping skills. It’s wonderful to know that after many years as an Art Therapist, that this non-invasive form of therapy now has a recognised place in the mental health field and is being embraced in schools and mental health clinics. The techniques used in art therapy can encompass any visual art form including painting, colouring, drawing, sculpting and collage. There have been occasions when I’ve introduced music and instruments to help someone open up. I find different art forms assist people differently; boys in particular love building 3D creations. Because art is a method of self-expression, people can use art in therapy to express themselves in ways that they are unable to verbally. Having them create art allows them to work through their presenting feelings and issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, emotional conflict, abuse, anger, addictions and brain injuries in a safe environment. Over many years of working in schools as an art therapist, I’ve had great success with children displaying what society relates to as ADHD, Autism and Asperger. Often, even when deeper feelings and emotions are being unlocked and 86

Issue #9 | The Inspired Guide | March 1st 2020

recognised, the session is usually felt to be a happy and safe space. Art therapy calls for the therapist to be both knowledgeable and intuitive in reading the person’s art and to have awareness in which path is best to guide them along with their creation. With children who have come for their first visit, I ask them to draw their immediate family and then the family friends. This can show me who a child feels safe with and many other interactions in the home. Another day I may ask them to draw things they like and dislike. I never use words such as fear or hate. If a child or person is feeling uncomfortable in the session, I tend to draw with them on my own paper which often helps them feel more comfortable. I’ve found that children and adults who have suffered abuse will often unconsciously draw the abuser or situation in a way that reveals them without causing emotional shutdown or over expression of emotions. I often analyse their creations and how they feel about them as they work, as it may help them to gain more insight into their minds and feelings naturally. As they become used to accessing themselves in this way they feel more self-empowered and confident. I encourage people to keep drawing journals to keep the connection with self open and to assist them in understanding any presenting issue. While many people have begun enjoying buying colouring in books for their creative outlet, I do find that when a person draws their own art they open themselves up to a greater sense of awareness, joy and relaxation. On a last note, find the creativity that makes you smile and include it in your daily adventures. Sue Norman Art Therapist