Traditionally there have been two main approaches in art therapy. One of them used
artmaking as a good way to communicate with the subconscious mind, while working
within a traditional psychoanalytic approach.
The other found that artmaking is beneficial on its own, if there is enough clarity
about the process to go along with it, and there is no need for psychoanalytical
interpretations. Instead, the patients who work in this approach are supported in
discovering their own creative flow, which leads them to deal with their emotional
difficulties more successfully. It sounds simple, but deep clarity about what shows
up in the process is crucial.
An interesting thing about these processes is that the patients do not need to have
artistic talent in order to benefit.
Art therapists indeed have psychological knowledge as other psychotherapists but
use it to support more than to interpret.
Nowadays there are many more approaches, which combine the art process with many
other theories and modalities of therapy.
All these approaches are good and beneficial. Sometimes they are the only solution,
along with other art therapies and play therapy, when the patients do not have good
verbal ability, as in children, people with learning disabilities, those with severe
mental illness and others. Art therapy works directly with the subconscious.
Lately it has become clear that art therapy is a very good therapeutic approach for
every one and every condition. Today there are art therapists who specialize in any
conceivable condition that can be helped by therapeutic intervention, in private
practice and in major institutions. A very special advantage of the arts therapies
is that they emphasize the patient’s strengths more than other approaches. Real strength
can only show itself creatively.
For me, the most important benefit of using art is something most people do not think
about: it is a very good and easy vehicle to get into a deeper state. This characteristic
is crucially important for therapy, because only by being in a deeper state, can
we release the causes of our suffering.
Einstein said that it is impossible to solve a problem by using the same system that
caused it. This is indeed true of mental and emotional problems too. By getting into
a deeper state than the state of thought and emotion, we use a much better system
to deal with our problems.
Every single one of us has the ability to be in a deeper state, if she or he is shown
how to do it. A deep state does not mean that we sit motionless with our legs in
the lotus position. It means being able to witness inner conflicts as a spectator,
instead of a participator. Making art is specifically good at bringing people to
We all know about people who were in psychotherapy for years and in spite of knowing
so much about themselves intellectually, still could not become free of their difficulties.
It is, in my opinion, precisely because of not getting into this deeper state regularly,
that they could not let their problems be released permanently.