What is Transpersonal Art Therapy?

What is Art Therapy? | Kimberly Hetherington

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college – that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, ‘You mean they forget?‘”

– Howard Ikemoto

Transpersonal art therapy is a recognised form of therapy that uses art as a language to express our innermost thoughts, emotions and feelings. It merges psychology, creativity and spirituality in a counselling context.

The most common misconceptions about art therapy are that you either need to be an artist or a child to benefit. The truth is you don’t need any specific art skills to benefit from art therapy, nor do you need to be in a certain age group. Everyone can benefit from art therapy; no matter your background, age, or current life situation.

As the quote above illustrates, we all used to draw at some point in our lives. Young children have no qualms about picking up a crayon and drawing whatever comes up for them. They don’t stop to consider whether they are good at it, they just do it. Art is a very natural and innate way to communicate.

The word ‘transpersonal’ literally means ‘beyond the person.’ This means looking beyond the labels and conditioning and essentially, our ego. In its entirety, transpersonal art therapy is a holistic approach that focuses on the health of the body, mind, emotions, soul and spirit.

Who is it for?

Transpersonal art therapy is suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds. It can be particularly helpful for those who may be experiencing major life changes, depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, or illness.

What are the benefits of transpersonal art therapy?

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Identification of personal resources and needs
  • Increased sense of self-esteem and confidence
  • Improved creativity
  • Improved interpersonal skills
  • Enhanced mind-body connection
  • Development of life-long coping skills
  • Increased sense of meaning and purpose
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Reduced depression and fatigue

History of art therapy

Did you know that the oldest known cave painting was found in Spain 64,000 years ago and was created by a Neanderthal?

Art is a part of being human. We have always used art as a medium to communicate stories, ideas and significant events throughout our existence. It comes before language, and it is a language of its own.

The term “Art Therapy” was believed to be coined by a British artist named Adrian Hill in 1942. At the time, he was suffering from tuberculosis in a hospital. He began doing art to pass the time and suggested doing art projects with his fellow patients. Through these projects, he noted the boost in morale it had on the hospital and ended up writing a book ‘Art Versus Illness’. His work was expanded upon by the artist Edward Adamson who worked with Hill to introduce this new form of therapy to patients in mental hospitals across Britain.

By the middle of the 20th century, many hospitals and mental health facilities began including art therapy programs after observing how it promoted emotional, developmental, and cognitive growth in children. The discipline continued to grow, soon becoming an important tool for the treatment of children and adults alike. Since then, art has become stable in the therapeutic field.

What can I expect in a transpersonal art therapy session?

Before the first session you will be required to fill in an intake form and from there we will discuss your goals and what you want to achieve out of our time together. I will then devise a program tailored to you and your needs.

Transpersonal art therapy is very similar to traditional counselling but also incorporates art making. In a typical session there will be a guided meditation to clear away the busyness of the mind. Following meditation, you will be encouraged to express yourself in whatever way feels right to you. I will give you a few minutes in silence, or with music, to create quietly. Once you’re done, we will discuss your creation together.

The basis of this type of this therapy is built on trust, respect and empathy. It’s important to know that I will not be diagnosing or “fixing” you. I am there to help facilitate the process of your own growing self-awareness, insight, and healing. I’ll be your co-pilot, so to speak, but ultimately, you are the guide.

How can I book a session?

You can fill in the form below and I will get back to you.

1 Comment

  1. Brilliant, very well written, a meaningful endeavour, you are on the right path and building your business

    Dad

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