Point of View

Point of View

Art and Trauma: Accessing Creative Paths to Healing

By Ryan Howes

March/April 2018

In a recent intake session with a prospective client, I asked my standard question about prior experiences in therapy. “Yes, I’ve been in therapy before,” she said, “In fact, I’ve been in art therapy for several months now.” Intrigued, I asked her to tell me more. “Well, I got an adult coloring book for my birthday, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

I managed to nod supportively while my thoughts went off to the races. Are those coloring books lining the bargain bins at Target really what’s become of the once venerable field of art therapy? Do they have any therapeutic value, or has the methodology developed in the mid-20th century to help promote children’s emotional and cognitive development devolved into a fad of filling in outlines of mandalas? Surely there’ve been recent developments more transformative than this. In fact, I realized that even though I’d been seeing the term expressive arts therapy increasingly bandied about in recent years, I wasn’t really sure what it meant.

To bring myself up to date, I reached out to Cathy Malchiodi, a Kentucky-based art therapist and author of more than 20 books on the topic, including The Art Therapy Sourcebook and the recently released, What to Do When Children Clam Up in Psychotherapy. As president of Art Therapy Without Borders and founder of The Trauma Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, Malchiodi has her finger on the pulse of the profession and is at the forefront of…

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1 Comment

Sunday, April 1, 2018 12:37:14 PM | posted by Phyllis
I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a passion for educating adult clients on the topic of childhood trauma, the developmental stages of the brain and why they feel "stuck" in their lives. Most clients are surprised to learn that many of the emotional, cognitive and behavioral issues they struggle with in the present, can be traced back to adverse childhood experiences. I use elements of art therapy in group settings and with individuals. Often, what they are unable to speak, they find safer to draw. I am currently researching how I can obtain an Art Therapy Credential or Certification online.