What Art Therapy Can Do for You (by Angelina Rodriguez)
Angelina Rodriguez, LPC, ATR-BC, is a Spanish-speaking, Houston Psychotherapist with a passion for helping others on their healing journey. She has treated individuals, couples, and groups for a variety of mood, substance abuse, and learning disorders. Over the years, Angelina has developed creative tools to help individuals move from resistance to change. She works closely with her clients to create specific paths, to manage life, plan strategies, and identify saboteurs. She assists individuals to live a quality life through self-awareness, self-responsibility, and healthy relationships. Angelina has a reputation for being direct, practical, and solution focused for Houston Therapy.
Among her many professional abilities, Angelina is an excellent Art Therapist, which is a growing movement in the psychotherapy community. But, what exactly does this practice do?
In the past, individuals have utilized art in outstanding ways, specifically in rituals, performances, entertainment, and ceremonies. Art is an integral part of most cultures, societies, and countries, in which ordinary people can take part in expression.
In the United States, arts and psychotherapy share commonalities that are unexpected to most people. In Art Therapy, psychotherapy compliments art while art-based strategies can be used effectively in order to better someone’s life. The integration of the arts, based on cultural practices and trauma-informed practice addresses traumatic symptoms with most adults, children, families, and communities.
Expressive arts therapy is a field of practice that began in the 1900s, a newer form of art therapy. Rather than individual applications of a particular form of art, such as music, dance, and painting in psychotherapy, expressive arts therapy is the use of multiple art forms. This can be a combination of or consecutive art forms, depending on what is best for the individual or group. Specifically, one art form might lead the session or multiple forms could be used in working with an individual or group. This is known as a multi-modal approach, or the combining of expressive arts as a means to reach psychotherapeutic goals.
As mental health care continues to shift toward more integrative forms of treatment, expressive arts therapy gains more popularity among therapists and psychologists. The attraction comes from the action-oriented method in art therapy, rather than a single arts-based approach. The therapy also enhances the senses, in which the individual expresses themselves through aesthetics and imagination.
While dealing with trauma, a practitioner recognizes that traumatic symptoms are not just distressing thoughts and feelings. Rather, they are experienced in the senses, in both the mind and the body.
What also seems to attract expressive art therapy in trauma work is the sensory value of the arts, along with their qualities that stimulate the brain. While expressive arts are whole-brain experiences, there is also belief that arts stimulate the right brain and implicit memory, due to their sensory-based qualities that are related to the right hemisphere. Current research supports the idea that trauma is encoded in the brain as a form of sensory experience, suggesting that expression and processing implicit memories are essential to intervention.
Arts-based expression is thought to uncover memories of the traumatic events, allowing the individual to talk about their experiences through an implicit form of communication. Using expressive arts allows progression in communicating the traumatic experience and the expression itself a more tolerable experience. This overcomes avoidance of communication and allows the therapeutic process to develop quickly.
Expressive arts therapy allows the individual to tell their story through the senses within psychotherapy. The therapeutic approach is advancing and should be more recognized in addressing trauma. The arts take individuals beyond talking and towards implicit communication, which is beyond what words can do. Though many practitioners utilize this form of therapy, there is hope for expressive arts to be recognized everywhere.