Art therapy is a powerful tool that combines art-making with psychotherapy. During art therapy, people work with me using a variety of art supplies to express themselves such as paint, pencils, markers, clay, collage, or pastels. In sessions, my clients process, understand and learn from their life experiences using creativity.
Here is an example case* of Samantha (pseudonym) a 51-year-old woman. She came to my office seeking to work through a rough end to a long-term relationship and childhood abuse. She had a hard time understanding her feelings around the breakup. She stated she felt relieved in ending it because it felt toxic for a long time. However, Samantha found herself rehashing interactions and had a hard time breaking free of repetitive thoughts about her ex. She was certain she needed to end it.
Samantha had a history of narcissistic abuse growing up. She recognized these traits in her partner. She ended the relationship and a whole gamut of emotions came through such as guilt for standing her ground, feeling responsible for hurting his feelings, and beating herself up because she kept mentally rehashing things. She had a lot of guilt because her partner blamed her. Rather than owning their negative choices and actions, her partner blamed her for what he chose to do.
Samantha and I worked through issues ranging from her family of origin abuse to her current relationship. Through art therapy, she learned more about her childhood and how the coping tools she used kept her narcissistic Father happy. This influenced her interactions with people today.
Our work together with art therapy was not like traditional talk therapy because it bypassed language. Samantha felt it liberated her feelings, emotions, and memories by moving them from inside herself to outside through her artistic creations. We discussed her rumination surrounding her relationship going south. I offered this statement to her, "surrender “Fred” to his highest good and power. Then surrender yourself to your highest power and good." She stated that her art felt freeing for her. She felt like the pincers holding her as responsible for Fred’s wellbeing let go. She felt that the best thing was for Fred to own his life choices and be released to his higher good.
Art therapists work in a way that respects the person’s unique lived experience and allows people to work on things in their own time and space. For more information on Art Therapy Guelph, please go to https://arttherapyguelph.com
*Cases are changed for anonymity