Yesterday, I went to see an arts therapist. I'd noticed I was feeling a little stuck in a few areas and wanted a space in which to explore that stuckness. I could have made art alone, but felt that there would be new possibility and richness in the therapeutic relationship. I also could have seen a counselor, but know the value of the arts in the therapeutic space.
I've seen a number of therapists and practitioners over the years. Since my first counseling course at the age of 21, I've valued the therapeutic space and what it offers. I've seen (and learned a lot from!) a range of different practitioners - counselors, somatic therapists, somatic experiencing practitioners, process oriented psychologists, and arts therapists to name a few.
In the session yesterday, I opened with a verbal overview of what was happening for me. Then, when I felt the impulse, I moved into making art. I chose a piece of cardboard and began with charcoal, creating some distinct forms, and filling them with water colour paints. As the visual forms emerged, I continued to reflect on the scenario of stuckness, tuning into a particular felt sense that was present; a heavy sense of responsibility. I continued to work on the image, and through the questions and noticing of my companion, came to see new possibilities.
The image, or the art artwork, in arts therapies offers so much. Beyond what the mind knows consciously, and beyond the verbal, the art works offer different ways of knowing. As I create, I pay attention to the process and to what stands out for me, finding new metaphors and resonant meanings.
I left the session feeling brighter in the possibilities, and the heaviness I'd been experiencing had lifted. I was able to consider clear actions that would help me to move through the stuckness, and to realise that it is perfectly fine to dip my toes, or perhaps a little more of my foot, into the waters.
I am grateful to my companion for the session, for her reflections and questions, and the way she stayed with me through my process. I am also grateful to the image that emerged, for what it offered in the process of creation and its final form.
For me, the value of arts therapies is the emergent knowing, beyond mind, revealed both in the artwork and the context of relationship.
Chelle is a practicing art therapist, researcher, and multi-modal creative. She regularly dives into the unknown to discover what is ready to be born, deepening her trust in the abundantly creative source. For Chelle, art is a means to inquire, express, and transform. If offers the capacity to soothe, making space for new perspectives and ways of being.