How does the art therapy process work in session?

If you’ve never had a session with an art therapist before, you may be curious about the unknown, how exactly does it work? If you have worked with an art therapist before, I want to share my process with you so you know what to expect from me.

Generally when choosing to attend an art therapy session you’ll have some outcome you are hoping to achieve, an improvement on your current situation. As a therapist I help you clarify the goal you are working towards so I can make sure we are heading in the right direction. Examples goals could be emotional (from depression and anxiety to feeling happy, calm and content about life) or decisions (from confusion and overwhelm to understanding the options available and being confident in choices made), but no one person is the same and the process is tailored to what you want. If you’d like to discuss whether art therapy is the right match for your goals, please book a introductory call

As an art therapist, I then act as a facilitator by suggesting materials and activities to help work through from where you are to where you want to be. We might start by having a closer look at where you are right now, using art materials that resonate with how you are feeling to release and acknowledge your experience. 

You might draw a picture of your current situation, or paint, or make a sculpture. No artistic experience is necessary and there is no wrong answer. This is not like the kind of art classes you might have taken in school, where you were told what to draw, what colours to use and marked on staying between the lines. This is about having the freedom to express yourself, however that may look. I’ll support you so you feel comfortable.

The process of creating art is powerful in itself, but it is also possible to reflect consciously on what you have created. I might ask you questions about your artwork to help you find your own insights about what you see in it. However it is not my role to tell you what your artwork means, I do not interpret art or pass judgement. Only you can know what your artwork means to you. I am here to help you discover it for yourself. 

As you explore your artwork you may pick up clues which lead towards your goal state. Perhaps you will find a new perspective, another way of looking at things which changes how you feel. Or an idea how you can change the picture, or change the story. I can help you make these changes by giving you the tools to modify the artwork or create new ones. You might add in resources, or remove the blocks that are holding you back. The artwork is a creative space to play with these solutions, a model for how these changes might play out in your own life. 

At the end of the creative process your artwork is yours to keep. It is you choice in what you do with it. Maybe you’ll display it at home as a reminder of the insights achieved in the session. Or you might destroy it, as a symbolic gesture of letting go of what no longer serves a purpose. 

Finally, I’ll check in with you and get your feedback on the session and the direction that you would like to continue with. 

This is an overview of the art therapy process which can be hard to describe, every person is different and the easiest way to learn about it is to experience it. 

In my ARTLABs I share my own process, using real life examples of how it has worked for me.