Art therapy is an approach to clinical treatment that uses creative approaches to aid clients in expressing themselves more fully. I occasionally utilize art therapy approaches in therapy because I've found that it creates a space in which clients can feel more freedom in expressing themselves as well as access different parts of their thought processes. It can be incredibly useful in couple, family and group therapy as clients can witness the different perspectives of all members of the group without the constraints of language. Art therapy is incredibly powerful in the treatment of trauma as it allows access to the "lower" brain systems, the parts of our brain that operate emotionally and without linguistic signifiers. Since the memory of trauma is stored in this area of the brain, talk therapy is often insufficient in working through trauma. Art therapy is additionally useful with children and adolescents, who may not feel comfortable using language to describe their experience. Because children and adolescents oftentimes cope with being unable to feel as though they can fully express themselves in adult culture, art sometimes offers a unique opportunity for them to feel empowered in articulating their voices. Art therapy is not a modality in which I interpret the art to signify different emotional states (i.e. You used a lot of red. You must be angry.), and if it does not suit the client's therapeutic needs I do not employ it. Art therapy is simply an incredibly valuable way to work through clinical issues, to externalize problems, and to mark space in time as a client grows and moves toward their treatment goals.
SoulCollage® is an artistic way of sorting out the different forces, impulses, emotions, people, chakras and archetypes that inform our identities. Developed by Seena Frost, SoulCollage® is the act of creating cards that represent each of these different elements by using collage images and placing them on 5 X 8" cards that are then collected in a deck. I am a certified SoulCollage® facilitator, and utilize this method in all levels of my therapeutic practice when it seems like a good match for the client(s). SoulCollage® is a technique that clients can take "with" them if they so desire, as the goal of this practice is for an individual to use it as a way of coping and as a way of connecting with their community. SoulCollage® is very effective in helping one to get in touch with the unconscious forces that may be motivating their choices in their conscious lives. It is also uncannily effective at making the different elements that affect one's life at different times visible. SoulCollage® groups can be useful in helping promote staff development, as well as amongst family members who may be in conflict.
All images and artwork are the personal creations of Kara Wahlin MFT © 2013