Why do I feel this way?
Does anything really matter?
Can I find peace, or is this guilt, anger, loneliness and depression all that there is?
Tough questions, questions few of us have the tools to answer. And often those who love you or care the most can’t offer the guidance you need for the hard journey we all face- the journey to becoming mature, fully realized human-beings.
Is there a path for this journey?
Is there a path that provides the tools and the skills you need to become who you are meant to be?
A path that develops abilities and self-knowledge you want that leads to mastery?
Art therapy is a bright light for all those aspects hidden in the shadow of your inner self.
Art therapy identifies feelings. Repressed feelings, and emotionally charged feelings, feelings that become the barrier separating you from the grace and contentment of an authentic life.
Art is an expression of the unconscious and metaphor is the language spoken by that powerful, hidden part of you. With art therapy, the images you create give voice to the unconscious and allow it to speak to you with power, with clarity in a way that language never will.
Art therapy translates what your unconscious is saying and gives you the answers you need to heal and grow. Your art and metaphors, your body language and your personal associations lay bare the stumbling blocks of repressed fear and pain you have hidden away.
The process of art therapy works with children, adolescents and adults. It works with individuals, couples, families and small groups too. It helps them all to break down psychological barriers and nurture the spirit of the individual and their community.
THE BEST PART? NO ARTISTIC SKILLS ARE NEEDED
Since you express and resolve problems while you create your art, it is your willingness to engage in the process that will teach you more about yourself and experience the emotional and spiritual growth that comes with resolving your fears and anger.
“Colors express the main psychic functions of man.” – Carl Gustav Jung
“Art is a marriage of the conscious and the unconscious.” – Jean Cocteau
Nonthreatening and fun, art therapy is a way for children to dealing with intense issues difficult to express verbally. Children are less articulate and often afraid to express themselves verbally, so the metaphorical language of art is actually a direct, powerful means to handle the emotions of horror, loss, sadness, anger and isolation.
Phobias and Social Skills Problems
Art provides both concrete and metaphorical form for fears and adverse social situations children may confront, allowing them to first understand and then resolve their issues.
Victimization Issues and Trauma
Scary, embarrassing or taboo subjects are much more accessible through art therapy, so children feel safer addressing threating issues through their artwork.
Loss, Abandonment and Grief
Creating art can help children manage their emotions and move forward, leaving memories of adverse situations or hurtful people behind in a concrete. At therapy makes a child’s response to what happened real, giving them the power to fight the fear and pain, and win with insight and healing.
Bullying has become a serious problem for all ages. Children are better able to express themselves while feeling embarrassed, scared, and lonely through art therapy. Children learn to express their feelings appropriately when they gain assertive coping skills and self-care strategies that increase confidence and free them from the role of victim.
“The only journey is the one within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Adolescence is an exciting, though turbulent time for kids. While making art provides a safe environment to express emotions, the creative process itself can be calming and healing. Studies have shown that simply coloring a pre-designed mandala image will lower blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration.
The use of alcohol and drugs can be acknowledged and explored in art therapy. Substance abuse masks feeling of anger, pain, and loneliness. Art provides a means to release these feelings through symbols and metaphor.
Even when faced with behaviors like refusal to speak or drawing inappropriate imagery, the art therapist can establish ways for the adolescent to express himself and to feel he has been heard.
Art therapy for adolescents is an active, experiential therapy that challenges depressive symptoms and ideas. Patient imagery can also reveal suicidal ideations and plans. Increased self-awareness helps you manage your feelings as you rebuild your self-worth and confidence.
Art therapy connects you to your unconscious in a way you have never experienced. Even average, healthy adults can explore their personal qualities and work to develop their full potential.
Marital and Family Dysfunction
Art therapy helps identify and illuminate family issues by making them accessible, then provides the tools needed to heal and deepen relationships.
As understanding develops with maturity, creating art provides ways to reveal, explore and resolve life issues. Adults can use drawing, painting, and sculpting to understand their inner dialogue and communicate with themselves and others in ways that cultivate both spirit and intellect.
Stress and Anxiety
Visually expressing your stress, pain or grief provides the relief of clarity and closure.
“Man’s task is to become the conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.” – Carl Gustav Jung
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
The word mandala comes from Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. A mandala is a universal symbol or archetype used in all religions and cultures that means “healing circle,” “whole world,” “unity,” completeness,” or “sacred circle.” Circles suggest unity, wholeness, completion, the womb and eternity. Circles are universally associated with meditation, healing and prayer.
In the East, mandalas are considered sacred. Mandalas are thought to hold healing powers and clear away blocks to spiritual enlightenment or to gain favor with the gods. Buddhist monks create sand mandalas to increase understanding of “non-rational realities.” Some of these can be up to eight feet in diameter and take weeks to complete using special tools to apply brightly colored sand in precise, intricate shapes and patterns. The sand mandala is considered temporary and is destroyed at the end of the ceremony – a statement of the impermanence of all things and the importance of nonattachment. Mandala paintings can take years to complete.
In the West, Native Americans use mandalas to tell stories, teach values and are considered a powerful tool for healing. The symbolism in their sand paintings, medicine wheels, and shields represent the universe and all aspects of birth, life and death.
Mandalas are incorporated into the art and architecture of Jewish and Christian cultures. Built during times of war, disaster and plagues, Gothic cathedrals remain powerful symbols of enlightenment for the human spirit. Contemplating the light pouring through the mandalic design of a Rose or Catherine Window while seated in earthly darkness can be a transformative experience.
In early Christian churches labyrinths were adapted as “walking mandalas.” Religions that do not approve of representational art may often employ geometric mandalic forms on walls, decorative tiles, or floor patterns in temples and churches. Circular designs have been used for millenia by Christian mystics to focus on spiritual development and express insights and visions.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung used mandalas with his clients and himself. He saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self,” as creating “movement towards psychological growth, expressing the idea of a safe refuge, inner reconciliation and wholeness.” Jung called mandalas “vessels” into which we project our psyche. Experienced consciously, this message from the unconscious is a means for restoration and growth.
It is important to know that registered art therapists must have at least a master’s degree in art therapy, or hold a master’s in related fields such as art, psychology or sociology with the additional graduate hours completed in art therapy required for recognition as a registered art therapist by the American Art Therapy Association.
“Art therapy is magical. You put pencil to paper and then without the control of your consciousness, your hand creates an image that identifies what lurks deep inside. You process the image and heal. You are able to forgive and love yourself. Art therapy can help you find your inner strength to deal with life’s challenges.” P.B.
“Art therapy with Dianne has transformed my child into a healthy and mentally stable little boy. Due to several tragic events, my son was experiencing severe anxiety. After a few sessions, my son was healed and restored to normal. Dianne has a God given talent to help children no matter what the situation is. I love her with all my heart and can never repay for what she has done for my little boy.” M. T. (Parent of 5 year old)
“Group art therapy has given me a safe place to express my feelings through different mediums where words alone wouldn’t have worked. It helped me to realize I am not alone.” V. P.
“Art Therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the Art Therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflict, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” – American Art Therapy Association