Art Therapy Modalities

Self-Portrait of Ericha
Dr. Ericha Scott Self-Portrait, 1996

Mandala ~ Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning magic circle. Very simply, it is a drawing within a circle. This circle represents the totality of self "and corresponds to the microcosmic nature of the psyche." (C. Jung, 1965, pp. 195-196) Carl Jung was the first psychotherapist to employ this process, for his own healing and later with his clients...

Life-Sized Silhouette Mandala ~ I have used this technique, essentially an outline of the body on large (3' x 6') butcher block paper, since the mid-1980's. For me, the human silhouette has come to be a life-sized mandala, in that it is an overt representation of the "totality of self". It is a drawing where conflicting energies can be integrated and "luminous states of consciousness" realized (Cornell, 1994, pp. 1-2)...

Blind Contour ~ This is a very powerful technique and works well for people with no art background. I have used it with men and women who experience distorted body image, including people with profound eating disorders. I have marveled at their spontaneous awareness, such as in the case of a person with anorexia, "I need to gain weight!" or "Is this me? What have I done to myself?" and in another case, "I am in proportion! I never knew that! I am not going to let anyone ever tell me again that my body isn't beautiful!"...

Clay & Ceramics ~ Some clients are not as visual in their orientation as others; instead, they are more kinesthetic . They relate to the world more through the sensation of touch, rather than sight or sound. This is one of the reasons why a tactile/three dimensional process, such as ceramics, can be so powerful...

Collage ~ Collage is a very simple way to select and arrange images, so simple that it is an exercise used effectively by psychotherapists who are not trained art therapists. Collage materials may include: actual or photocopied photographs (of the client, family or friends), magazine photos, paper, tissue, found objects - from nature or urban settings, and sentimental objects. Collage can be portrayed on a flat surface such as paper, added to the surface of a sculpture, and it may be mixed with other media such as paint...

Prayer Sticks ~ "Sticks, staffs, and wands have long been used as tools and symbols of higher forms of communication. A stick, staff, or wand is an antennae. They direct, receive, and channel energies. They are used to draw forth and give expression to the feminine life forces, for healing, protection and creation. . . . Such tools help us to magnify and select the creative process." (Andrews, 1993, pp. 108, 110.)...

Masks ~ In therapy masks have been used to help clients explore identity, to identify and integrate disowned aspects of self, to explore spirituality through sacred art, to forge a deeper connection with a higher power, to assume a different or more empowered self, to process an event or emotions and to find balance. Masks have been created and used by human beings for at least 30,000 years...

 

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