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How Does It Work?

There are many possible answers to how Art Therapy works:  The easiest answer is that it works by giving a person a different way to express their thoughts and feelings – both through the image they create and the physical aspect of making the art.  Another answer in that Art is considered a “language” and its lexicon is that of the symbol.  Symbols, metaphors, dreams and wishes all have their origins in the unconscious.  Because Art uses symbols, it can be an effective way to access the unconscious.  The field of Neuroscience and advances such as MRI and PET imaging has begun to answer with proof that Art Therapy works and that it has a positive effect psychologically and emotionally, precisely because it affects the wiring in the brain.  For example:  Neuroscientists can see that when someone imagines doing something like watching a sunset or riding a bicycle, those areas of the brain involved in actually doing the activity light up.  Drawing or making an image is more powerful than simply imagining it.  It can and does make lasting changes in the brain.

If you want to see how Art Therapy works, check out Youtube.com and search for Art Therapy.  If you want to feel how engaging yourself through art works, try this:

Relax… Look at the image below, or find an image of your own that you like.  Imagine that you could put yourself in the image.  Ask yourself questions like:
 
Where am I in this picture?  What catches my attention?  Do I notice if it is warm or cold?  Would I hear any sounds?  How would I want to change the image?  If you could bring one person or thing with you, who or what would you bring?  CONGRATULATIONS, you’ve introduced yourself allowing art to speak to you.  Now think about ‘the story’ you told.  Does it reflect something about yourself?  Something you want?  Something you don’t want? Something you think you can only dream of?

Next:  Ways I’ve helped people.

Terms like “help, improvement, and change, move on, heal and get past it” are subjective, and mean different things to different people.  Often people who are in emotional pain think of healing as meaning that the pain will be gone.

 © 2010 Jae Fratzl MA, ATR, RP