Read on to learn about the various art therapy techniques used by art therapist in their work.
Art therapy techniques and approaches are as varied as the multitude of art media used in art therapy. Some art therapy schools of thought focus on the product of the art therapy, while others focus on the process. Those who focus on the product of art therapy call the practice art psychotherapy. Art psychotherapists consider themselves therapists, not artists, who use art as a therapeutic modality. Margaret Naumburg was a believer and pioneer in art psychotherapy.
Image of an Art Therapy Technique Other art therapists believe the process of creating art has intrinsic therapeutic benefits. Elizabeth Kramer, another art therapy pioneer was one of the first to originate theories about the use of art therapy in this manner. Art therapists who use art therapy techniques based in the belief of art as therapy focus primarily on the creative process rather than the therapeutic outcome. Art therapists who believe in art as therapy utilize the creative process itself to help their clients and patients deal with mental, emotional, physical, and other various issues.
There are also many other schools of thought when it comes to art therapy that form the basis of art therapy techniques used by art therapists in the field. Other art therapy schools of thought include Jungian influenced art as therapy, Jungian analytic art therapy, Gestalt art therapy, and directed and non-directed art therapy.
Active imagination theory is a cognitive method originated by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung that uses the imagination as a way to contact and interpret your inner self. In active imagination theory the imagination is used to access and understand emotions and life experiences. Active imagination has a broad influence in modern art therapy as its concepts are often used to help patients tap into their thoughts and emotions. For example art therapy sessions can be comprised of the patient journaling about the creation of their artwork or responding musically to a piece of visual art they created. There is a myriad or art therapy techniques rooted in the theory of the active imagination.
Jungian Analysis and Jungian Analytic art therapy promotes personal discovery through the use of the arts. Jung himself sculpted, painted, and created artistic representations of his own emotions and experiences to help him deal during difficult times in his life. The Jungian psychology and analysis focuses on the impact of creativity and art in relation to the unconscious. Jungian analysis explores the interaction and connection of dreams, the ego and the unconscious. Jung believed that dreams provide the ego with information in a manner to which the ego will be receptive and not defensive. The aim of the Jungian analysis and psychology is to create, develop, and explore the relationship between the ego and the unconscious as part of self-reflection and exploration.
There are three methods of Jungian analysis that can be used to access and interpret imagery that comes from the unconscious. The methods are explication, amplification and active imagination. Active imagination uses the imagination to explore and experience the inner-self through experiencing the unconscious. Amplification and Explication are art therapy techniques that are primarily geared towards understanding and interpreting the inner-self through the unconscious. Explication dictates that images have meanings other than what they appear to be. Amplification is the process of relating images to similar images in the effort to recognize similarities.
The Jungian analysis is very influential in the study and practice of art therapy. Jungian psychology is the basis of many art therapy techniques used today. Many art therapists employ techniques based in the Jungian analysis during their sessions on a regular basis. For example, many art therapists ask their clients to create and use imagery to deal with and interpret traumatic events by using the arts to access emotions and experiences.
Other popular art therapy techniques include and are based on Gestalt art therapy, depth psychology of art, directed versus non-directed art therapy, healing with art, and many others. These schools of thought influence many art therapy techniques used today. For example art therapy is often used to help patients heal their mental, emotional and physical health.