Words are a vital component to communication. But sometimes there really are no words that can describe a personal experience. For those who have experienced severe pain, neglect, trauma, or loss, emotions can be become too overwhelming to discuss.
Many of the clients we see at BPAR have experienced some form of trauma or loss that they are trying to manage and heal from. For the children and adolescents we see who have unfortunately had this experience, the thought of discussing these events and feelings in therapy with a total stranger can be overwhelming, unsafe, and terrifying.
One of the ways in which we help clients feel more comfortable sitting with us is through the use of art therapy.
Art therapy is based on the idea that creative expression and the creative process aid in healing and serve as nonverbal means of communication. Creativity allows people to explore their emotions and beliefs without having to say a word. In this way it can be very safe and containing. Through the use of metaphors, art therapy can provide the distance that clients need from their personal experience in order to process safely. Perhaps the client’s worry can be made into worry dolls and placed in a box at night to help the client gain control over his or her overwhelming thoughts.
Many people, adults and children alike, are seeking healthy ways to feel and have control in their life. Art therapy can help. The art therapist can suggest mediums and materials that help a person have physical control, such as creating a collage or using colored pencils or markers. Art therapy allows people to protect their own interpretation and meaning of their artwork. It can also be a cathartic experience in which individuals can create images of their feelings or experience and destroy it or turn it into something new.
Many of the families we see struggle to communicate, leaving each person feeling unheard and misunderstood. In family therapy, art therapy can assist families in learning how to share space, communicate without words, and allow each individual’s experience to be heard. It can also be a positive experience for the entire family to engage in together.
At BPAR we incorporate a variety of creative approaches into individual, family, and group therapy. We see the benefits of art therapy on a daily basis through stress reduction, self-exploration, and growth in self confidence, and we hope that through art therapy you may experience these things, too.
By Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR
Boston Post Adoption Resources