How Therapeutic Art Can Help Relieve Stress, Make You More Present and Heal Emotional Pain
What is Therapeutic Art?
Therapeutic art is facilitated art time by a trained therapist, following a discussion and then drumming/deep mediation/hypnosis - either in a one-to-one session or group. It is a deeply relaxing and inspiring process that can benefit anyone – even those who are ‘terrible’ at art!
For the process to work, your finished creation does not need to be a masterpiece! It isn’t there to impress anyone – it's for your eyes only. Often seeds of an idea for a project are started in the session that can continue to be developed at home. As my teacher taught me, it is a process, journey, an expression. I recommend initially not sharing it with anyone.
Therapeutic art offers a way of working through problems, decisions and pain using creative processes, to gain clarity, understanding and emotional harmony. It is also a mindful practise that helps to bring us back to the present moment. It can be done using any medium that is pleasing – such as painting, pottery, embroidery, poetry or creative sketch-booking to name just a few.
My studio is set up with a good range of materials to get you started. But think of this as a jump lead to help you reconnect. You can perfect your ideas, if you want to, in the years to come. My 'art' personally never involves creating any finished pieces right now. It's about movement, intuition and personal development. Precision, perfection, finished pieces, wow factor is not required here. Authenticity, clearing blocks, channelling, heart-felt, real, inspired connected - are themes I will encourage you to focus on.
One to one: After a discussion as to why you have landed here, I use my drum, infused with Reiki to take you into an altered state of awareness. Taking you down into Theta brain waves, I can guide you into it, or you may wish to deep dive alone. Either is fine. I usually drum for 15-30 mins, and then offer you the space to continue exploring insights received through therapeutic art time.
In a Group: As above, but taking the group’s needs into account the session will be modified accordingly.
Through therapeutic art we can explore things we are stuck on and can’t be resolved with logical thinking. This process helps to unlock different perspectives and new insights that help us to solve a problem or find a solution that we may never have thought of otherwise.
So a session working in this way may enable you to channel a vision, or embed a seed which opens and flowers in whatever rhythm/divine timing that is correct. Or you might just have fun, make new female friends, drink tea and eat cake - often sorely lacking in this day and age.
Dealing with Stress Through Art Practice
We all experience life’s pressures, whether it’s building a career, maintaining our primary relationship or raising children. And we can often feel pressure to keep all the balls in the air and have everything ‘perfect’.
If you are anything like me, during periods of high stress and change, I can sometimes lose sight of my true self and what is important to me.
When I am under pressure, I can forget to look after myself, get enough rest and exercise and sometimes find myself slipping into unhealthy coping patterns. What I have found is that if I relieve the stress with therapeutic art time, this allows my mind critical time to unwind and process. The result is that my energy levels stay balanced, the crisis passes, and I avoid destructive energy crashes.
I find a great way to relieve strong emotions is to express them though painting. Big, messy splotchy paintings are a good way to get energy moving and to relieve pent-up frustration. By expressing the feelings that are inside me in a visual way, I can more easily acknowledge them, let them go and allow new more positive feelings the space to come through. I usually destroy or dispose of the paintings once they are done with, to remove the energy from my living space. But I always photograph the pictures first, so I can see the progress I am making.
Other people may prefer knitting, weaving, clay work or collage. Anything using our hands and minds that absorbs us, can provide a positive outlet for our emotions and help to reduce our internal pressure. We can lose all sense of time and place when we become immersed in something we enjoy – helping relieve stress and restore feelings of wellbeing.
How Creativity Can Make Us More Present
Creativity can help us be fully immersed in the present moment, without worrying about the past or the future. This is highly beneficial for the mind, giving it a much-needed break from over-thinking and has been compared to meditation for its calming effects on the brain and body.
Therapeutic art is very relaxing. It helps us take life one day at a time and give us a focus that is both positive and rewarding, especially during times of change. It also gives us something positive to do in our spare time, that helps to relieve boredom or loneliness and give us back a sense of purpose. It can be especially helpful when dealing with recovery from addiction.
When a person lets go of addictive behaviours, they are left with a void in their life for a time – and this void can lead to cravings for the substance or behaviour that has been released. There is also often a sense of grief, where the person wants for the thing/person/substance/behaviour they have said goodbye to. They can also feel like they will never be able to maintain this effort forever – hence the well-known recovery saying: ‘just for today!’
An Addiction Case Study
Using a combination of hypnotherapy and EFT initially, I helped the client to see the nature of their addiction and how it was destroying their life. It became apparent that they would live healthily for a few weeks and then undo all their hard work by reverting back to their addictive behaviour. The result was they felt out of control and that they were not making lasting progress.
In the first therapeutic art session, they had a vision of a Tsunami. This was their energy in its out-of-control state. They had such strong ideas and emotions, but no way of channelling them, so chaos ensued. The vision then changed to a wooden boat which the wind (their ideas) could blow calmly across the water. They realised they needed a container for their ideas, and this would then balance their emotions.
By calmly working day by day on creative projects in her spare time, my client replaced the feeling that something was missing and instead focused on the increasing development of her creative project which involved embroidering lots of brightly coloured feathers. She also worked a lot with sketch books as a way to explore and contain her ideas.
By using her spare time on these creative projects, she no longer felt the void – or the strong unbalanced chaotic emotions. As the projects progressed, she felt a sense of accomplishment and pride in what she had created. This helped her stay firmly rooted on the new path she had chosen for herself despite the occasional pull to revert back to her old ways.
Using Therapeutic Art for Gaining Answers
I love being creative. It allows me to drop into a different place mentally where everything is connected. The more I engage with this place inside me, the most joyful and alive I feel while carrying out normal daily activities. I have also found that my art practice and the self-awareness it generates keep deepening with time.
I find that by sinking deep into my creative mind I find answers to things I am stuck on. One technique I like to use is to ask a question, and then paint a picture using my non-dominant hand to channel the answer. The results can be quite profound!
Over a year ago, I asked the question: what is standing in my way? It was a time when I was feeling blocked and unclear about my path forwards, so I used my art practise to obtain guidance. At the time of creation, it didn’t make sense, so I put the picture away. When I revisited this painting, a year later, I was in awe! I had painted a symbolic representation of the year ahead, and as I came to understand it, I suddenly received the clarity and certainty I needed to move forwards. Once this shift had taken place, the changes in my outer world happened almost immediately as I was in total alignment with them.
Healing Emotional Pain
Emotional pain can arise from many different sources in life. It can occur in response to current life events such as relationship problems, trauma or the loss of a loved one. But it can also run deeper, stemming from much older feelings that have not been resolved from childhood.
When pain is close to the surface, such as with a recent trauma, it can be very healing to express it within a therapeutic art setting. By feeling the pain and expressing it, it can be gradually let go – and this process often leads to greater self-awareness.
Where pain is less acute, but life feels dull and joyless or without meaning, it can often be effective to work therapeutically with art to refocus the mind. Collaging is a great way to do this – moving the brain’s focus to what would make the person happy and creating a vision board of a more fulfilling life. This art can then be hung in their living space, so that the new happier life blueprint is absorbed deeply by their subconscious mind.
An Emotional Pain Case Study
A client who had recently ended a destructive relationship but still had feelings for the ex-partner found that by painting a series of pictures of him helped her to acknowledge the good and bad aspects of the relationship. It was the first step for her to let him go.
The paintings led to a wider discussion of other past relationships and she went on to process her other significant partners in the same way. This helped the client to see a clear pattern in the type of men she was attracting and make a conscious decision to take a break from relationships until she had healed the underlying feelings of low self-worth that were being mirrored back to her by abusive men.
What Can Therapeutic Art Help With?
The answer to this is almost anything. It can be used for unlocking creativity, rediscovering your inner artist, deep relaxation and renewal, finding a new direction in life or processing unresolved trauma.
If you would like to find out more, please give me a call! I offer a 30-minute free consultation from my studio in Woolverstone, where you can find out more about this process and decide if it is right for you. I welcome people with any level of artistic experience. Basic art materials are provided. Sessions can be provided one to one or in small groups.
Call 07780 612625 or email email@example.com
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