The beauty of counseling is our belief in our clients’ motivation to heal themselves, and that our role is merely that of a guide through our client’s difficult transition. The use of art techniques allows the clients to experience unpleasant and hard emotions in non-threatening ways while displaying the beauty they have locked within. When a client seeks our services often an activating event has occurred, and starting a conversation about that can be challenging.
Whether the event caused anxiousness, anger, or other big emotions, art becomes the gateway into discussing them. One great project for starting the conversation is scratch art. Scratch art starts with a piece of poster or mat board. The therapist describes how we come into the world a blank canvas. The therapist gives the board to the client to make color using pastels or crayons. The client and therapist discuss what gives the client’s world color – relationships, likes, dislikes, hopes, goals, etc. The client then paints over the colors using a mixture of equal parts dish soap and tempera paint. The therapist and client discuss how bad things happen in lives that can make us lose sight of who we are (our colors) and what these events were like personally for the client or what emotions were brought about.
Once dry, the client creates a picture by taking a tooth pick or a cuticle stick and chips away at the paint revealing the color in the background. The colorful background contrast the paint to create something different and new. The therapist and client discuss the picture in terms of--- how it is made of both the colorful background and the paint and the role of each part in creating some new, the effort it took to create, what effort it will take to work through their own hard times, what coping skills are useful, the people in their lives who support them, how to keep in mind the colors of their self as they process the event, and etc.
Art’s calming effects allow the client an outlet for their emotions, provide an opportunity for a creative outlet, and start the conversation. While personal goals vary, the hope is to open the gateway to the client’s empowerment and insight. The above is just one example of many art projects that can assist the client along in their therapeutic journey.