• About Art Therapy
Art Therapy is highly relevant to Jungian and archtypal psychologies.
As an action and image based therapy, it seeks to reconnect with
and release ancient healing potentials which lie deep in consciousness.
Art therapy is a process for reformulating the self through imagery.
The art output provides a concrete record of change, which can
be reflected upon by the client. For example, the ability to discern
patterns in the art expression may lead the client to a further
recognition of patterns in his behavior.
Creating the picture helps to make the unconscious conscious. Once
the image is in view, the process of its transformation may begin.
• Client Art Work
The artworks featured on this and other pages of the site were
created by clients I worked with between 1996 and 2002. They graciously
extended to me the use of these artworks for educational purposes
only. No personal details or clinical information are revealed,
and all names and initials are changed. Any reproduction of materials
on this site is forbidden under international copyright laws.
I would like to thank these client-artists for their hard work
and also to acknowledge their courage.
The purpose of sharing their artworks is to illustrate the potential
for inspiration, beauty and release that is offered by the art therapy
> click the image below to view the entire art work
children | adolescents | adults | medical | couples | families
The use of art and play therapies to treat children has become
the standard of care in trauma cases as well as in many other presenting
issues. In addition, normal children benefit from art therapy techniques
designed to release conflicting feelings, build confidence and encourage
self knowledge. The self-images presented here were created by elementary
school kids participating in a social skills group. Through talking
and sharing their artworks in small groups, the children practiced
expressing their own ideas, as well as the art of listening and
responding thoughtfully to their peers.
Not all adolescents are willing to try art therapy.
At some time, they may have heard that they are ‘not good
at drawing’, so they became self censoring and reluctant to
take the risk of an art experience. In these cases, non-art interventions
may be the best choice. On the other hand, when adolescents are able to express their feelings with shapes and color, the outcome
is often dramatic, like these works by middle-school boys.
12 - 13 year old boys
Adolescence is often a time of upheaval, uncertainty and rapid
change, in which strong, unfamiliar feelings can seem overwhelming.
Putting these feelings in a visual form through the act of applying
color to paper is not only soothing and enjoyable, it stimulates
a process of personal choice, overcoming obstacles and appreciation
of outcome which can be seen as a metaphor for their developmental
tasks. These drawings were produced by high-school aged girls.
• medical art therapy
The branch of Art Therapy that pertains to physical illness is
called Medical Art Therapy. It has shown significant efficacy in
some pain conditions, as a supportive tool in the process of recovery
from illness, and in coping with chronic conditions.
The client who made the drawings above was struggling with severe
back pain and a diagnosis of compressed nerve root. In her case,
the goal became to increase mobility and decrease pain. First she
attempted to ‘draw the pain’. In the second we see her
turned away and holding the weight of a broken world. Thereafter
she set out to create a healing sense of flow, release and fluidity
through her images. Eventually she came up with falling waters,
rivers of color and finally, she was able to draw herself swimming
freely in a beautiful pond.
• individual adults
In art therapy, we seek to understand both the content meaning
of the images and the process that created them as metaphors. We
are looking at what the picture has to say about the state of the
individual. Verbal connections are made to the images: ‘What
direction is the stairway leading?’ ‘Where is the fire
in relation to the ocean?’ Then, transformation is set in
motion by client and therapist collaborating on the plan for the
next drawing. Will the image become more distinct? Less rigid? Magnified?
More open, colorful, or animated? The change brought about through
transformation of image goes deep into a person.
The couple whose drawings are featured here consists of an unmarried
man and woman in their early 20’s. Already together for several
years, theirs was a struggle to gain individual maturity as well
as perspective on the meaning of their relationship. Her drawings
are on the top row, and his are below.
The art expression of each is viewed by the other. What is revealed
are both differences and similarities. Reflecting together verbally
on the artwork, its process and content, can be fun and revealing.
This is the “talk” part of art therapy--weaving connections
through metaphor to life in the here and now and the issues that
the couple came in to work on. The art expression’s transformation
over time may reflect a deep change in the individuals, their understanding
of one another as well as their self-knowledge. What is learned,
experienced, healed in the art process, is applied to the every