Art and Soul Counseling

Art Therapy

What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy carefully weaves together psychotherapy with the creative art process and can be a highly effective way to enable healing through the exploration of verbal and non-verbal expression. It is a primary form of psychological treatment used in the mental health care profession and is no longer considered an adjunct to traditional methods such as talk therapy.

The American Art Therapy Association (www.arttherapy.org) defines art therapy as an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making by people who seek personal development to improve and enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well being.

What is the history of Art Therapy?
While visual expression has been used for healing throughout history, Art Therapy became a distinct profession in the 1940s. In the early 20th century, psychiatrists became interested in the artwork created by their patients with mental illness. At around the same time, educators were discovering that children’s art expressions reflected developmental, emotional, and cognitive growth. By mid-century, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers increasingly began to include art therapy programs along with traditional talk therapies, underscoring the recognition that the creative process of art making enhanced recovery, health and wellness. As a result, the profession of Art Therapy grew into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment with children and adults in a variety of settings.
What kinds of problems do you work with and how?

I work with a wide range of issues and life transitions including self-esteem, depression, anxiety, grief, self care, trauma, relationship, divorce, family-of-origin and career issues. However, most people I see don’t describe the problem in these clinical terms. And, I think that static labels can undermine everyone’s belief in the possibility of change. I tend to work with clients to name the problem in a way that is useful for them. I talk with clients about the effects of fear, shame, sadness, pressure or disappointment. If a client is interested in using art materials, I will offer an art intervention to help us to see, to better understand and work with the problem. We can talk about how the problem is affecting the client’s life and how to take some practical steps to cope and move through the issue at hand.

Why use art?
Art offers an alternate language to express oneself and an alternate means to sort through challenges and develop insight. For some going to see a therapist and talking is not the most comfortable or effective means of expression. And even if we are comfortable with talk therapy, sometimes, our thoughts loop, we repeat ourselves, and we try the same strategies over and over again and feel stuck. The language of art can bypass familiar linguistic narratives and be used as a way to get unstuck.

I have seen again and again, how art mirrors in a very present and concrete way who we are, how we feel and where we’re at in our lives. Art can hold the polar opposites that we sometimes think, feel and experience. Our art is at once unique, beautiful, ugly, raw, fragmented, and complete. For all of us, it can reflect our strengths, weaknesses, fears, ambitions, hopes, and memories.

Art externalizes the problem. The art allows these repeatedly problematic thoughts to be seen, right there on the page. The problem becomes malleable, workable in the physical world. Working on the problem in its symbolic, physical form, with materials that are manageable can be a new, fresh, playful way of problem solving. And, unlike talk therapy alone, the art serves as a record of the experience. You can see where you were when you were feeling stuck, how your moods shifted and evolved to where you are now.

Who is art therapy for? Children? Adults?
For both adults and children the art made in sessions can help clients to express feelings, identify problems and point toward solutions. Reflecting back upon the art made (and when appropriate, sharing the work with loved ones) enhances the therapeutic benefits of counseling.

Children:  Art is a very natural language for children. It can be especially useful for young children who have not developed the language to describe their experiences and feelings. Children can show us in their language, that is, in the way they play and through their art making process how they are feeling and what it is they need.

Adults:  Many adults seek counseling because they have been trying to work on solving a problem, or changing a pattern of less than useful behaviors, but are ‘stuck’. For adults, art can address the problem in a completely new way and offer insight that was not otherwise apparent. Art can help make the subconscious, conscious.

Do you see Individuals? Couples? Groups?
I enjoy seeing all of the above. For families and couples I will arrange to meet with you individually and together at different times throughout the course of therapy. In my experience, problems rarely are caused by and affect just one person in any sort of group and it can be effective to have each member of a group working together toward common goals.

Groups: I am happy to create an art therapy group for those who have specific needs (addiction, grief, brain injury, major mental illness, etc.). Please contact me if this is something you might have a need for.

Open Studio: Out of a desire to share the studio and my dedication to art making, I also offer Open Studio Sessions. These are open to the community of artists and creative friends and structured as an art making workshop rather than a psychotherapy group. Please contact me for more information.

What kind of therapeutic approach and methods do you use?
My foundation is rooted in a holistic and transpersonal approach.

Transpersonal psychology is a theory of personality that trusts human potential and the inherent health and competencies of the whole client (physical, mental, spiritual). By definition, transpersonal psychology includes and builds upon aspects of each of the other waves of psychology (psychoanalytic, behavioral, and humanistic). Transpersonal psychology has an optimistic view of human development and personality, that one is naturally moving toward wholeness and what blocks them are unrealized or rejected aspects of the whole self. Transpersonal psychology does not have a specific technical modality.

I utilize a combination of modalities including: narrative therapy and art therapy techniques, as well as solution focused, and gestalt approaches which are congruent with transpersonal theory and do offer specific techniques or methods. The methods of assessment I use are client centered and arts based, I offer healing imagery work, and mindfulness and meditation practices.

My main interest and focus is in employing narrative art therapy strategies.

What is narrative therapy?

Michael White and David Epston are credited with pioneering narrative therapy in the early 1980’s. Their concept of “story” or “self-narrative” functions as a formula for arranging a coherent account of oneself and a way to describe this identity to others. Consistent with the transpersonal view, narrative therapy identifies and builds upon personal strengths and self-worth in order to break down a fatalistic pattern of negativity, a step toward re-writing ones personal story. This concept of narrative therapy can be described as ‘re-authoring’ as process of focusing on finding alternate descriptions of events and invite the possibility of more satisfactory endings to situations that have been seen as immutable problems.

How does art + narrative Therapy work?

Narrative therapy is a modality that is useful in conjunction with art therapy for children, adolescents and adults. One of the ways art expression complements narrative therapy is that imagery assists both the therapist and client in finding alternative solutions to problem-saturated stories. There is no other form of therapy where internal processes can actually be made visible and tangible. Art adds another dimension to verbal narrative approaches by providing creative ways to externalize, reframe, and “re-story” the problem. During therapy in the narrative-art context, the stories clients create in their art correlate with the stories of their lives. At Art & Soul, traditional art materials as well as digital art (photoshop, final cut) can be used in sessions to create healing stories be they drawings, paintings, sculptures or digital stories.

How much do you charge?
I do submit claims to health insurance companies for payment and am willing to offer service on a sliding scale if needed. My fees scale is as follows:

Student Rate Professional Rate
30 minute initial consultation free free
60 minute individual session $105 $125
90 minute individual session $125 $150
60 minute couples session $150 $175

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