Two of the most common comments I hear in my work are “'I'm not an artist” and “I haven't made art since I was in school". Some people feel that their artistic skill is lacking or their finished artwork won't be good enough. They may also think that art therapy is only for artists; but I'm going to dispel that myth and explain why art, and particularly art therapy, is effective for people of any age, with any level of skill.
1. Understand where your blocks come from
Blocks are usually safety mechanisms that have protected us (often learned during childhood). There may have been someone who told us we weren't an artist, or we may not have been rewarded for our creativity. You may have been told by your parents you couldn't fulfil your dreams of becoming an artist because it didn't make money. While it may have been a logical choice not to follow a career in art, many of us gave us the benefits of personal expression, connecting to our deepest wisdom, integrating of the left and right sides of our brain and perhaps most importantly, healing. By stepping into art making once again, we begin the process of transforming beliefs that no longer serve us and our lives.
2. Expect the unexpected
Art therapy is an incredibly powerful way to explore yourself and to access the unconscious. You can use it to heal parts of yourself that may be forgotten or repressed as well as see things from a different perspective. We want to make something that we see in our minds but often there is a deeper part of us that wants to speak. Allow it to come through by intuitively picking images or materials. Be guided by a feeling inside you. Sometimes if we have a strong reaction to a material or image, it means there is some energy inside you to work with. Be sensitive to your capacity . (If it brings up traumatic memories you need to stop and return to a feeling of safety. An art therapist can guide you if this happens).
Having our art witnessed can be incredibly healing. One way to do this is journaling, which is witnessing ourselves. Another way is to join community of like-minded individuals. You may also like to start working with an art therapist or art therapy group. You can join our free Facebook community heART space or explore my website for one to one sessions and group therapy.
6. Trust in the process
Art can take us on a journey from the most magical realm or the deepest, saddest parts of ourselves. It can elate us or shake us to our core. But fundamentally it is about using our creativity to tap into our deepest wisdom and listening. It's about moving or shifting what is painful, and integrating it to transform our lives. It is about the process of creating art rather than the product itself and there is no right or wrong way.