My need for expression through painting led me to explore how the Arts can be integrated into the therapeutic context as another tool in the psychotherapeutic process. So I specialized in Art psychotherapy. If we examine the history of Art therapy, we will find that since 1940 a number of painters and psychotherapists began to realize that for some reason the creative expression has a therapeutic effect on the psychological health of the individual. Since then, the “mystery” has evolved so, as to constitute a separate psychotherapeutic method, known as Art Therapy. It is applied in the US and Great Britain since 1960, while in Greece it took effect around 1980.
Art Psychotherapy is based on the power of artistic expression (painting, clay, collage, sand, etc.) as a communication medium, it is a form of psychotherapy that allows emotional expression and “cure” through non verbal expression. Unlike traditional art expression, it is the process of creation that is emphasized and not the final product. The treatment is based on the hypothesis that people can be cured through the use of imagination and the different forms of creative expression.
It comes from two main areas: visual art and psychology, and it means using visual arts with a therapeutic aim. Painting is a projectory technique that allows children and adults to create, to build a picture of the world as they experience it. An image reflects the emotional concerns of the individuals.
In such kind of treatment the therapist asks the patient to express feelings, dreams and internal experiences through various artistic media. The artwork created is considered a representation of the objective world, but the person who creates the artwork projects parts of themselves and of that objective world. The relationship that is developed is ternary, that is therapist – treated – image. Therapy through art can be individual or group, it is based on the subjective needs of the treated and is guided by the therapist by giving exercises of specific themes. It’s a different way of communicating, a different “language”, the language of image and symbolism. Usually adults use words to rationalize their feelings and thus distance themselves from them. The therapist is there to create an atmosphere of security, trust and acceptance of the individual without criticising, and help in the investigation and processing of the image with the self.