What is Art Therapy?
How does it work ?
There are two ways of producing a work of art.
An OBJECTIVE way, based on the use of the physical sense organs as instruments for observing external forms and patterns in the outer world. This Objective Thought method translates everything into results; it aims at a final production.
A SUBJECTIVE way, based on the psyche’s sensitivity to its own inner process. This way we call ‘Psychographics’. It comes into operation from the psyche’s own inherent capacity to express its own inner condition of tension patterns as a ‘pattern of movements’ arising from the usually hidden centre of the psyche. The whole process of psychographics is made possible because the psyche is itself a field of energy, which when allowed to move freely, can portray its own inner condition. Psychographics is a process of ‘self-portraiture’ as valid as that seen in the first way of producing a work of art. This Subjective Thought method puts everything into processes and omits results.
The SUBJECTIVE method is what is called ART Therapy. It comes about through a process of ‘letting’ rise up from within the normally hidden dynamic psyche to draw or paint or produce a work of art from its own feeling function. The record thus produced can then be looked at by the ‘patient’, who has now proved in making it, to be an ‘agent’; the forms contained within the painting feeding back into the organism, thus allowing the psyche to re-evaluate the situation from which these forms have arisen. It is the feedback of the forms exhibited in the painting which constitutes the therapy. Therefore, it is quite permissible for us to call such therapy, Auto–therapy, or Self-cure.
On examination, many of these forms, shapes, colours, and dynamic representations will be found to be associates with personal experiences of pleasurable and also painful situations of the past within the lifespan of the particular person. Still deeper we may find association of nature’s colours and the environment, and deeper still we find ancestral associations imprinted in the substance of the person projecting back into ancient time. Each of these levels has an influence, for better or worse, over the current life of the person.
In the therapy situation, by a series of questions, it is possible to discover the particular levels of association operative in the patient. By these questions, the ‘patient’ can be led to be an ‘agent’ of his or her own auto-therapy. A human being is never really a passive ‘patient’ as long as he or she has some degree of conscious awareness of being in a therapeutic situation. The purpose of Art Therapy is to reduce the ‘passivity’ of the person and increase the ‘agency’, or power to act from within, by act of conscious will. By discussion of the different levels of association, the person can be led from the superficial to the deeper-association levels, which are the levels at which the natural therapeutic associates and is operate.