Do you frequently experience feelings of depression? If you answered, “yes” then art therapy could be the perfect approach for you in eliminating your feelings of depression. To help understand the benefits of art therapy and how art therapy can help with feelings of depression, I have interviewed licensed professional counselor Jennifer G. Albright, MA, ATR, LPC/MHSP.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I completed my undergrad at Tulane and graduate program at Southwestern College, Santa Fe, NM. Fantastic experience. Both were great preparation for counseling and art therapy practice. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a licensed mental health service provider (LMHSP), and a registered art therapist (ATR). Worked with many different populations but specialize in pre-teens, adolescents; also work with PTSD, trauma, addictions, eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders. I am currently in private practice and facilitate groups through different agencies. Have practiced in several residential facilities with teens dealing with high intensity issues such as addiction and problem sexual behaviors as well as anger management, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.”
What are the benefits of art therapy?
“Art therapy is hugely beneficial in that it provides the therapist as well as the client with a visual map of target areas for the therapeutic process. Very often, especially in depression, clients cannot verbalize current triggers or even describe their feelings. Art therapy allows for people to explore these feelings as well as possible emotional undercurrents. In addition, looking at the body, mind, and spirit connection can be done much more effectively with visual images in conjunction with talk therapy. For example, a client with depression who cannot verbalize feelings or talk to people in their lives regarding issues with relationships, etc. can benefit by expressing feelings with visual journals, art therapy directives / interventions, and simply by creating art as a means of processing.”
How can art therapy help with feelings of depression?
“Art therapy especially helps with feelings of “stuckness” and not being able to connect the physical and spiritual side effects of depression with the emotions. Often body maps, painting techniques, work with clay and other forms of art can take a destructive life experience and lead someone to a reconstructive one. For example, for depression to move, energy in the body needs to change. Art provides a physical, emotional, and spiritual experience that addresses all areas for the client.”
What is a typical at therapy session like?
“This depends on the age of the client, the presentation of the client and the severity of the issues. I don’t think that there is a typical session but I will say that either a client brings in a piece that was done for homework and processes with therapist or therapist and client come up with intervention that fits client’s current needs. Different art materials possess different levels of fluidity, which need to be assessed by an art therapist. This is why simply “doing arts and crafts” does not satisfy the needs of a client and why intensive training is needed in order for the client to be supported properly. Watercolors, tempera / acrylic paints can evoke very intense emotions while pencils, crayons, tend to be more rigid and less fluid. Sculpture, collage all have different levels of fluidity that can have very deep effects on clients. It is important that art therapist can process the issues that generally arise and that the training is there to allow for this processing.”
Does a client need other types of therapy or medication to help increase the benefits of art therapy?
“I often work adjunctively with treatment teams, especially to address the medication issue or to work with other types of therapists and even nutritionists. In addition, support groups and family members are often important to involve. I do feel that medication can be helpful but is not the entire “answer” for depression. Therapy is a process as is dealing with depression. Medications as well as herbal remedies, acupuncture, changes in diet and exercise are all important options. However, if the emotional aspects are left unresolved or unsupported, medication will be much less effective. There are clients that appear to have the biological and physiological component of depression that truly does require at least short-term medication with therapeutic support. Given that I also do “talk therapy”. I often can provide both counseling and / or art therapy depending on what is therapeutically indicated as well as what the client is most comfortable with.”
Thank you Jennifer for doing the interview on the benefits of art therapy. For more information on Jennifer G. Albright or her work you can check out her website on http://sites.google.com/site/albrightarttherapycounseling/Home.
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