By Carla DePalma, ATR, LPC
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a form of therapy in which we use the creation or viewing of art to facilitate healing.
In-Person Art Therapy vs. Telehealth Art Therapy
If you’re meeting with an art therapist in-person, we’ll have different art supplies at our disposal for your use, and some of these supplies might be unfamiliar to you, depending on your experience with art. I may set out specific materials for you to use with a specific prompt or you may choose the ones you’re drawn to instead.
An in-person therapy session permits us to sit across from each other with ample table space for you to work. More than that, it allows me to see you and your expressions, as well as how you interact with the art materials. You might wrinkle your nose in displeasure at the texture of oil pastels or delight in the way you can blend their colors on a page. I can sit with you and make art with you in that space.
Telehealth and art therapy work a little differently together—I cannot physically hand you supplies through the computer for you to use on the other side of the internet however much I might want to, so we have to get creative.
We rely on an internet connection. Audio may skip like some remix no one asked for, and video may or may not make our faces blur or disappear completely. It might be annoying! Telehealth presents its challenges, but I’m also excited to work with you if telehealth allows you to seek mental health services without worrying about potentially being unsafe during the pandemic. Telehealth can be a comfort, and art therapy via telehealth can still be healing. Moreover, our problem-solving with telehealth can lead to unique ways to facilitate your healing through art.
We’ll talk about what art supplies you have access to in your home at the start. Not everyone has an art supplies vault in their house, but if you’re a lover of art you might have a good variety. You might have old art supplies stored in a basement because your hobby fell by the wayside. You may only have a pen and paper at your disposal. I’ll make recommendations for buying budget-friendly supplies whenever possible, but there is meaningful art to be made from things like newspapers, letters, old art, old books, something from your backyard, or scrap metal in your garage!
Making and Sharing the Art
I would love to see your artwork while you’re working on it and the finished product, but that is dependent on our technology and your comfort level with sharing your art. This might look like you holding it up to the camera for me to see, uploading the image and sharing your screen, or taking a picture of the art to email to me. In cases where it’s not possible to view the art, I still hope for us to discuss your creative process and any thoughts and feelings that came up for you while you made it.
If you are interested in seeking in-person or telehealth art therapy sessions, we would be happy to help. Please contact Graceful Therapy to set up an appointment today!