Art Therapy


Art therapy was developed in the 1960s. It involves the use of creative arts such as drawing to facilitate a psychological healing process Lock et al. (2018). The leading proponents of art therapy are Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer who borrowed Sigmund Freud’s argument and belief that people can communicate unconscious information through other ways apart from verbal utterances (Schouten et al., 2015).). To facilitate unconscious communication, Naumburg incorporated the use of visual arts such as images to bring out ideas that cannot be communicated verbally (Lock et al., 2018). According to Schouten et al., (2015), most traumatic experiences encountered earlier in someone’s life are not likely to be communicated verbally. Instead, such information is stored in the unconscious part of the brain hence can only be imagined and expressed symbolically. During art therapeutic sessions, the therapist needs to create an enabling environment by developing a good therapeutic relationship with the client to help in accessing the unconscious information. Through attuning and emotional presence, the therapist can reflect on the best approach to nurture the client into the narration of personal experience using symbolic language. A study by Eisdell (2019), shows that when art therapy is conducted to a client for an extended period, the client is likely to experience emotional and cognitive development thus promoting healthy relationships and reducing the growth of negatively aggressive behavior.

Art therapy differs from general art education due to the intended outcome. One may assume that sitting in an art class and drawing is the same as sitting in a therapeutic art class, which is not true. In art therapy, the therapist creates an enabling environment to enable clients to explore themselves using art. The child in the therapeutic art exposes oneself voluntarily to the therapist and other learners and allows the therapists to look at the artistic statement (Schouten et al., 2015). According to Lock et al. (2018), art therapy enables people to express themselves in a way that heals their cognitive and emotional being. The therapist is thus charged with the responsibility of facilitating useful art activities for improved experience sharing. Art therapy is mainly associated with teachers of art who studied their students between the early and mid-twentieth century also known as the world wars period (Eisdell, 2019).  Lock et al. (2018), adds that art therapy works in such a way that it enables the child or client to lose control thus releasing their unconscious information in the art without their knowledge.

Reason for Choosing Art Therapy

As a nursing student, I wanted to understand how the human brain works such that some information is stored in a way that they cannot be communicated verbally. Besides, I wanted to know the types of information I have been keeping from the world because I cannot describe them using words. I believed that the best way to release the information was through art therapy where the therapist would create an enabling environment to help me connect with him/her. In this way, I believed that the art that I would build would be interpreted by the therapist effectively by the therapist to provide meaningful information and release some negative emotions I may be having over bad things such as abuses that that happened to me when I was a child. This would not only help me heal but also enable me to understand how art therapy works and the modifications a therapist should make to obtain optimal results through the proper healing of the client.

Therapeutic Experience

My therapist decided to use shitting technique to prompt my unconscious thoughts about something messy that happened to me earlier. The therapist scattered materials in the room causing a mess and disorderliness as she provided me with artistic resources to begin my therapy. She told me to draw anything I felt like drawing. I became anxious and started feeling that things were not right; I had to make them right. I had no idea how I started scribbling stuff on the drawing board. The shape and size of the image started coming as I continued to draw. Interestingly, I was becoming angrier as I stayed with my drawing the feeling of putting things in order disappeared. I started feeling that I should continue to mess something up in the room or even shred the paper I was provided to make my drawing. I remembered a time when I was a kid and was punished unfairly and spanked thoroughly by my father for a crime never committed. At first, I was not sure what I was raging at, but it later became clear to me that I have been holding grudges that I may not even be aware. At the end of the session, I was feeling better even though I was exhausted. Eisdell (2019), argues that shitting enables the client to lose control by initiating the feeling of rage due to betrayal or bad past occurrence. In this way, the client lets out the negative energy leaving them feeling therapeutically healed.

Linkage to Classroom learning

Learning is a cognitive process, which requires cognitive stability to occur effectively. However, comprehension of information among students differs due to the difference in the stability of their cognition. Teachers should identify unconscious problems that students may be having and help them overcome such issues through art therapy. This may involve using any form of art such as music, drawing, or drama regardless of prior experience. In this way, the teacher will help the students identify and overcome a negative feeling they may be having but are never aware. Consequently, the cognitive burden will be released and the students will be able to learn and comprehend information effectively.

Arts therapy is useful in identifying and overcome negative feelings that may be stored in the unconscious brain for an extended period. In this way, it enables the client to heal cognitively and emotionally due to the released burden.