As one of the pioneers of Art Therapy, Margaret Naumberg said, “with its use of symbolic language and imagery, art therapy is often a more effective road to the unconscious than the usual verbal approach to therapies.”
As a trained Art Therapist, I find art to often be the perfect tool to help clients reveal a different part of themselves. Art used in this way is a means of expression and requires no “artistic ability”. It can merely be used as a modality to substitute for talking and it magically taps the unconscious which provides material that would be otherwise harder to access.
I do not use art with all of my clients and I do not use art in every session. Sometimes clients are intimidated by the idea of drawing or painting and that is understandable. Unfortunately, our inner critic has often gotten to us at a young age because of someone else’s comment about our art work. Often the artist within us ends up wounded or even appears to die off completely. I believe that there is an artist in everyone and that this “artist” expresses itself in different ways. I see “art” as an expression of who we are rather than a skill we have. Art therapy is not about drawing a tree and having it look like the tree in our backyard, but rather, it is about our ability to use form, shapes and color as a means of expression. Such expression is then shared in therapy and together we explore its meaning.