Andrea von Troschke
How can art help in therapy?
Art “speaks” when words fail
You may feel overwhelmed, not know where to begin (telling your story) in therapy, feel empty, unable to get in touch with your emotions, too traumatized to speak. Art helps you. It expresses the inner Me and speaks through images, colors, shapes, writing, music.
Everyone can express with colors and shapes -- no technical skills required
If you can hold a pencil, you can do art therapy! You can paint or draw, or create collages by selecting from a large variety of pictures, words or phrases. The focus in our work is on the deeper meaning of your art, not whether it's “good” or “bad.”
Art fosters creative energy when you’re anxious and depressed
Most people get engaged in the process of artmaking, have their own inner dialog with their artwork, feel increasingly energized by the physical movements of drawing, picking pictures for a collage, etc, and are stimulated by finding hidden parts of themselves or arising memories in the art.
Art helps you focus when you feel overwhelmed
You need mental focus to give visual form to your troubles or emotional life. Once you start creating through art, you inevitably find yourself focusing... and that is calming and clearing in itself.
Art heals through release
Externalizing internal pain through art can be relieving in itself. You describe in words what you see in the artwork. I may ask a few guiding questions to help you identify and name what's going on deep inside of you. This can be clarifying, cathartic, healing, releasing.
Art makes an internal experience tangible and concrete
When you struggle with inner thoughts and feelings, they're often intangible and confusing. Art expression gives pain and confusion shape, color, a place on the page. Thoughts and feelings become concrete. Quick and and spontaneous self-expression through art often takes only a few minutes, and then functions as a diving board for deeper exploration.
Art provides a safe playground for problem-solving
When you have a conflict or problem to solve, your left (logical) brain is overloaded. However, it's your right brain that you really need because solving a problem requires creativity. This means you need to be in the right gear. An artwork can represent the problem, and by changing it, you may find a solution more easily.
Below, you can see some examples of art by former clients, who have given their permission to show them here. To protect their privacy, identifying information has been removed.
Besides pencils, crayons and pastels, which can be used to create your own original art (see examples on left), I supply pictures which can stimulate lost memories and put you in touch with experiences and feelings that seem inaccessible because of depression or other issues. I often observe with clients who feel empty and tired that this collage-making generates energy.
This photo shows the kinds of pictures that can be used for collages: they were cut out of magazines. I provide the pictures, and you don't need to bring anything unless you would like to incorporate your own photos, objects, etc.
The same principle of stimulation works not only with images but also with words or sentences, as shown here:
Unconscious feelings or needs can be uncovered or recovered by associating them with pictures and words that speak to you. In addition, they help express and clarify what underlies your pain or struggle. Instead of keeping it all inside, you can release them. This is often experienced as enlightening, freeing, relaxing and calming.
Andrea von Troschke, MFT, ATR, BCPC (License MFC 45893) Marriage and Family Therapist, Art Therapist Registered, Board Certified Professional Counselor