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Art Therapy

Art therapy is a therapeutic approach that include many benefits, one benefit that cannot be emphasized enough is the ability to engage non-verbally. By using art materials that can engage many of the senses (such as movement, smell, touch, cognitive processing, and emotional processing) the art therapist is able to work with clients to find a new way to tell their stories. McNiff (1992) talks about this connection to the materials by saying “A shift takes place in art therapy when people leave the ego position and let the figures in the paintings speak through them” (p 105-6).

Art therapy is an approach that can include looking at art, making art, or just talking about art. There is no experience required to do art therapy as the work is always about the process involved in art and never the product. Art therapy has been around almost as long as therapy, but there has been a significant increase in research around how art therapy impacts the brain. “Recent findings in neuroscience demonstrate that traumatic memories are stored in the right-brain, largely unavailable to verbal recall. Art based interventions can facilitate connection to implicit, traumatic memory and create a bridge from unconscious states to conscious awareness. Furthermore, art products externalize the individual’s inner thoughts and feelings, rendering them tangible, visual form, making them difficult to avoid or deny. An image will often express the un-censored ‘right brain truths’ that lack the defensive armor of left- brain explanation or interpretation.” (Tripp as cited in King, 2016, p. 176) 

The use of art therapy in working with ADHD or executive functioning skill building is effective as it allows folks to stay active in making art while talking about topics that can be hard to process with full and complete attention directed toward them. Art can be so many things in therapy, a fidget, a way to express something that doesn’t have words, a way to connect, and a way to process. 

Art Therapy
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