The Magic of Art Therapy

So what is Art therapy? I often get that question, along with puzzled looks from people unfamiliar with the profession.

Unlike other mental health and allied health professions, art therapy has a uniquely visual component. It utilises the psychotherapeutic process between therapist and client as they dialogue, express, create and explore during an art making process.

Therapeutic arts practise can also include dance, sand-play, movement, sound and voice – whatever resonates most for the client. It's an integrative approach to treatment, using the expressive component of art making as a tool for supporting mental health and well-being.

You don't need to be good at art, or even have well developed fine motor skills, it's purely a tool of expression.

Chenai Mupotsa Rainbow Muse Art Therapy Melbourne
Photo Credit: Lauren Peters, Me and My Girl

Rainbow Muse works with all ages and has a high volume of NDIS participants as clients.

In one my last blog posts I spoke about the use of Art Therapy with children on the Autism Spectrum. While this remains one of the areas of specialisation in my practice and an integral part of my work, I thought I would broaden the discussion of the benefits of art therapy.

I also work with many young people and adults with psychosocial disabilities, as well as intellectual disabilities, as part of NDIS plans. Most clients have a multidisciplinary team with different health professionals focusing on different areas of their care.

In the NDIS Art therapy comes under Therapeutic Support as an allied health profession. Depending on the needs of the participant and their goals, it adds value by giving a creative approach to supporting their mental health needs and goals for wellbeing. 

Sometimes talking alone doesn't work for clients and providing other ways to connect, process, be heard and learn positive coping strategies is helpful. Doing so in a relational psychotherapeutic process that feels less confrontational due to the creative, colourful and fun processes involved, creates safety and can remove some of the barriers to progress. 

Art therapy is a relational process because the co-creation of art fosters co-regulation, positive attachment, integration and resilience building – all important objectives in treatment. 

Chenai Mupotsa Rainbow Muse Art Therapy Melbourne NDIS
Photo Credit: Lauren Peters, Me and My Girl

When working with younger clients, child-centred play therapy is incorporated into sessions.

As we role play, use our imaginations, take turns and collaborate in the creation of magical worlds there is the experience of attunement. This includes empathy, presence, mindful interactions and active response.