What do you DO in art therapy?

Traditional talk therapy has been around for literally over a hundred years.  Most people have seen a therapist and client in a movie or on television and so they know what to expect – the client comes in, talks for a bit, the therapist helps out and then the client leaves (although some portrayals in the media of how the therapist acts can be wildly wrong).

However, people wonder about art therapy because it is hard to know what to expect.  Let me walk you through it.  On the first session, there is always an intake, where we talk to get information about your background.  This lets me know who you are, why you want therapy and what your treatment goals are.  We also review confidentiality at that time.  If we have time left over, we might make a little art.  If not, I will show you the art studio and begin the art next time.  It depends on how much information is in your background that needs to be collected.  I will guide you through the whole first session. 

After the first session, we will work in the art studio.  Sometimes I will ask you to make something specific, but most of the time I will give you choices.  I think of it like a wishbone.  Some people know exactly what they want to make to express what is going on.  If the art is meeting your treatment goals, I let you go for it.  We go to the cabinet and talk about what you want to make.  If you need help, like, deciding what kind of paper would be best, I can point you in the right direction. 

Most people’s minds go blank when they come into the art studio.  This is the second part of the wishbone.  Here I will usually offer you two more choices.  These choices line up with the treatment goals we have been working on.  You usually get to choose the kind of media you want to use such as markers, paint, clay, charcoal, chalk pastels, watercolor, collage or textiles.     

Some people like to work quietly.  Some people like to talk while creating.  Both are fine with me.  I stay in the room the whole time you are there.  After you are done with your art, we talk about how it felt to create, the process you used, thoughts and emotions that came up.  Sometimes there is time for a second piece, and we start the process again. 

Art therapy is a way to work at deeper levels than traditional talk therapy.  Once people get used to the process, they start to enjoy expressing themselves through art.    Dr. Tara Alexander, LCSW is currently taking appointments for art therapy.  She would be delighted to talk to with you about the healing aspects of art and art therapy. Please feel free to contact her by clicking the contact tab above. 

Scroll to top