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Painting What We See Within: A Look at the Insides of Art Therapy

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Painting What We See Within: A Look at the Insides of Art Therapy

One of the most memorable experiences I had last summer was visiting the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. (3)At this museum, professional artists had created none of the works hanging on the walls. Visionary art is an individualized expression by people with little or no formal training; the rules of art as a school did not apply here. While I was there, I learned that for many years, the artwork created by patients of mental institutions, hospitals, and nursing homes were disregarded and destroyed by their caretakers. After seeing what powerful and telling work came from many people in these situations, I found this information to be very
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The theory behind it is that visualizing his or her feelings will help him or her to get beyond masking them through language. Imagine describing a dream. It is never quite possible to communicate effectively the images we are left by our subconscious. Art therapy allows the client or patient to relay these images in a raw and powerful way. (1) During the therapy, a client's artistic ability is irrelevant. While the session is not just a relaxing diversionary activity, it is also not an art class. Most sessions are structured to help get the client started on a project, and oriented toward helping him or her reach specific goals. The idea is for the patient to be able to work at his or here own pace as the therapist helps them to explore the work's significance. The therapist is not an interpreter of the client's art but rather a facilitator to his or her inner discovery. (5)

Many art therapy practitioners agree that it is a good alternative to verbal therapy if the client does not speak English or is shy or frightened about verbalizing his or her feelings and experiences. If the latter is the case, it is often easier or less painful for the client to discuss the image, rather than to discuss him or her self directly. In this way, art therapy is at once both therapeutic and diagnostic. The act of creating helps the client to heal and allows the therapist to perceive implications from the process. As the therapist learns about
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