Art therapy has a foundation in psychology. It addresses emotional and developmental needs through the combination of the art activity and therapy relationship. The perspective of my practise focuses on self-expression and the immediate shared space of therapy sessions.
Sessions are designed to allow for freedom of expression but also, to either moderate or expand responses. For some clients, visual expression is more accessible than language and may assist with verbal expression.
The process can be the focus within art therapy as certain art media and/or media handling can stimulate a particular emotional response.
People of all ages and varying counselling needs can use art therapy and find it helps access thoughts and feelings that are difficult to articulate in words which leads to healing.
Benefits of art therapy for autistic clients
I work with clients to provide a situation of shared artistic activity which provides an alternate focus between the artistic process and social engagement, a situation which is less threatening as a social situation for individuals on the autistic spectrum.
The benefits of art therapy for autistic clients are potentially considerable, and often individually based. Some benefits I have observed in my work are described below.
Benefits: ART THERApy can...
- Provide an alternative to verbal communication.
- Allow for self expression and emotional expression.
- Address sensory processing needs.
- Encourage experiences in the moment. The aim with clients on the autistic spectrum is often to stimulate engagement with the immediate environment (using art media) against autistic tendencies to withdraw or block out.
- Develop hand eye coordination and fine motor skills.
- Encourage a different focus and variations in movement away from repetitive tendencies
- Respond to or encourage artistic ability and help establish an ongoing interest, which can become an increasingly independent activity.
- Reduce tension and anxiety. Art therapists work within the artistic process and can direct media and engagement to provide calming experiences.
- Improve the ability to imagine and think symbolically. This helps develop an understanding of language as words represent real objects. Learning to make or read representative images can assist in developing language and communication.
- Learn self regulation.
- Develop joint attention: art therapy can help clients share focus of attention with another person.
- Develop recognition of representation and emotional understanding.