There are many applications for art therapy: relaxation/meditation, self expression, psycho education, self awareness, trauma relief, psychotherapy and more. Art therapy can address physical, emotional and spiritual pain and can benefit people in hospitals, treatment centers, schools, and nursing homes and can both complement and pre-empt other therapeutic modalities. Art therapy may be used with children, teens and adults from age 4 up and works in both individual and group settings. To be an art therapist one needs an MAAT, a master’s degree in art and art therapy, and can be board certified and registered. The Chattanooga area is home to quite a few art therapists who may be contacted through the Tennessee Art Therapy Association (TATA).
Sad About Divorce watercolor by “K”age 8
His mother brought him to see me because she and her husband, the boy’s Daddy, are divorcing. K. , a quiet, beautiful, blue-eyed boy, has not been talking about it even when prompted. His mother was concerned that he was stuffing his feelings. After an initial assessment it was clear that he would be a good candidate for art therapy. He was not very verbal, loved art and responded very positively to drawing and seemed to “speak art”. We set out to cover a 6 week “Divorce for Young People” series of art expression and education sessions. The boy’s sister, age 5, will come to art therapy next. One reason that art therapy is particularly effective for children is that they can express through art making things that might be too hard or too sophisticated to communicate verbally. K. was experiencing many strong feelings about a complicated subject and was ready to get them out. To facilitate emotional release I chose working with paint on paper. The fluid quality of paint is perfect for evoking and expressing feelings. K. painted without a word for almost 30 minutes. It was when he titled his painting Sad about Divorce that he revealed his layers of watery sadness. More importantly he heard that he could talk about the sadness any time he wanted. He heard that divorce is sad for most people, including children and parents. He heard that his feelings were okay and that they would flow, just as he imagined, coming and going, happy and sad and that he was safe to feel it all. And he learned that painting was a good way for him to get his feelings out. That is silver paint. Stunning work.