Art Therapy for Healing and Connection
by Trisha Lundin, LPC, Art therapist with Healing Art Eau Claire
When was the last time you engaged your creative mind? With busy lives, technology, distractions and seemingly endless tasks, we miss out on trying something new, exploring or getting messy. Living our lives entirely in our left brain takes its toll, especially when life doesn't go exactly the way we think it should, or when we find ourselves hurting and searching for meaning.
It is common practice to deny ourselves connection to our inner creative muse, causing us to feel fragmented and disconnected. As children, we find meaning in the world by interacting creatively. This original language of sharing and learning stays with us throughout our lives as a source of vitality and resilience.
As an art therapist, I work with individuals from various stages in their life’s journey. I join them in searching for ways to tell their story and feel heard. I listen deeply to what makes them unique and worthwhile humans. Everyone has the challenge of learning to carry their own story. Stories of trauma, inner longing, sadness and grief sometimes lose their place in life and as a result can cause ongoing hardship and symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic pain and physical illness. Art therapy can help ease these symptoms and restore inner wisdom both as an alternative and complement to traditional talk therapy.
There are two main approaches to art therapy: art AS therapy and art IN therapy. Sometimes my work with individuals looks like a judgment-free, supportive art class where participants can enjoy the freedom of protected creative space. Other times, a session looks more similar to traditional talk therapy with some guided art making or curious conversation. As a trained art therapist, I use my professional understanding to guide those I work with and find ways to make our time meaningful and life changing.
Making art can be intimidating. Especially in a culture that demands perfection and places value on production and progress at all costs. For those I have the privilege of working with, our time together feels like a sanctuary from these demands, a place where their true self can develop a voice and where they can rest in not having to live their story alone.
In our time together, we tell a story with the gentle fluid strokes of a paint brush, we tell a story by pounding and molding clay or by looking at images we connect with. No matter where our sessions take us, the art always speaks more than words can ever say and connects us in our human story.
Simple, healing, and creative exercises to try at home:
• Draw, sketch or scribble with your non-dominant hand
• Break down thoughts and feelings into lines, shapes and colors
• Journal insights and awarenesses
• Transform old, broken or random objects into something new
• Take pictures of things you find interesting when traveling or on a walk
• Cook or make a meal without a recipe
• Play! Children are wonderful teachers if we listen