People ask me what is art therapy and what does it aim to achieve?
Arts therapy uses the art modality, in a supportive setting, to facilitate growth and healing. It is a process of discovering ourselves through any art form that comes from an emotional depth, foster awareness, encourage emotional growth, and enhance relationships with others.
Art therapy is considered a unique domain of psychotherapy and counseling that recognizes the nonverbal and/or metaphoric expression delivered through the creative process.
People think that art therapy may be similar to an art class.
In art therapy session there is no teaching and learning of art making. Although art materials are provided, the focus is not on one’s skills in art making, or the artwork as a product. While in art and craft workshop people learn to enhance their skills in making better and beautiful art product, art therapy is focused on the person: how does a person make use of the materials? What are his choices and making like? What expression may be observed? How does it correlates and reflects deeper personal characteristics? Among other questions that may be relevant to each specific case.
What has been the attitude of people in Singapore towards art therapy?
In Singapore people see therapy as an indicator of deficit of some sort. Usually clients and families will take the opportunity of therapy only if they are prescribed by a doctor, a school, or a legal counsel. Some people are open to see the benefit of art therapy as a way of self-care and support through life crisis that occasionally happen, rather than a way to recover a sickness or a disability.
How is art therapy tailored to meet the different needs of the young and old?
Art therapy, like other therapies, is client-based oriented and therefore it is focused on the unique situation and needs of each client. It requires from the therapist to keep learning and to develop professional knowledge and skills to suites the specific clients she/he works with.
One may say that art therapy may not be a one size fits all.
It is possible that a person will not find art therapy effective, or that specific therapist does not match her/his expectations. In my experience there is no one style or approach to therapy which is more effective. It is important that the client will feel connected and interested. If a person wants to go through self exploration and self-care, as a therapist I guide them through a meaningful journey, though may be painful - no pain no gain - they reach their goals.