Art therapy can beneficial for many different people who suffer from emotional

Art therapy can beneficial for many different people who suffer from emotional, psychological, and mental health conditions. Art therapy can be used as a treatment method for people suffering from any type of emotional disorders. Doing so can help them regulate their emotional instincts and responses by providing them with a creative outlet and a way to express themselves when they might be unable to do with traditional therapy. Unlike traditional therapy, art therapy has several modalities that a client can work with depending on their age, limitations, sensory issues, the preferences of the client, and medical problems. Along with modality, other aspects that Art Therapists have to take into consideration are the theme of the exercise and the different stages of the client’s treatment.
Art therapy has grown into a notion that art is able to help us to understand who we are, how to express our feelings and ideas when words are unable to, and how we can expand our life with self-expression. Malchiodi (2010) stated, “It is accepted and widely recognized as a viable treatment method and a modality for self-understanding, emotional change, and personal growth” (p. 2). While each creative arts modality is unique, the use of each should be carefully considered by every Art Therapist. For example, an exercise with a theme of “Who am I” and modality of collage material might be appropriate for someone who is new to therapy. However, the same exercise might not be used for someone who has already established a strong therapeutic relationship with their therapist and the therapist might choose a modality and theme based off what they know about their client. For the exercise that I presented the modality was the use of clay, markers, and clay modeling tool, while the theme I chose was emotions. The prompt that I gave the class was; Using the material in front of you, sculpt one feeling that you felt in the past twenty-four hours. Wanting to take a more directive approach I chose a theme that provided instructions on what to do and want to use art therapy as a way to have people talk about their emotions. I chose the modality that I did because, like water and sand, clay has a natural appeal and is a simpler material to work with. Most people enjoy working with it because there is no separation between them and their work.
The goals for this treatment were; Finding ways to handle one’s emotions since the process of art making can reduce emotional stress and anxiety by altering one’s mood, Releasing emotions, and developing a better understanding of one’s emotions. According to Wilkinson & Chilton (2013, p. 5), “Art therapy helps people experience increased well-being through a number of creative pathways that uniquely illuminate purpose and meaning and increase positive emotions and engagement”. By developing a better understanding of one’s emotions they are able to discover and express themselves in new and different ways.
The populations that would benefit most from this exercise would be children and people who do not actively practice art. It would benefit children because working with clay is a whole body experience and encourages both large and fine motor skills. It is also easier for children especially younger ones to visually show what they are feeling since most verbal communication is difficult and they might feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings. Art is also a natural language for most children so art therapy can be used to work with children that have emotional disorders. For people who do not actively practice art, it could also be beneficial. Since many of these people are new to art, working with clay would be a good place to start since it is usually seen as a non-threatening material.
Populations that would not benefit from this exercise would be people that have disabilities such as, Intellectual Disabilities, Down Syndrome, Severe Autism, Alzheimer, etc. Most people, but not all people, with these types of disabilities, would not benefit from the exercise since more often than not they end up putting objects in their mouths, so the materials that we would be working with could end up in their mouths and they might try to eat them. People with these types of disabilities also might not be able to stand the texture of the clay. They also might not be responsible with the clay modeling tools and try to hurt themselves or someone else.
The stage in treatment, that this modality would be appropriate after the Art Therapist gets to know their client and what their client is capable of and what their limitations are. According to Wilkinson ; Chilton (2013, p. 6), ” … benefit finding should be encouraged at appropriate times and commensurate with the abilities and needs of the client. Such cognitive emotional shifts can take time and like all processes in therapy should emerge organically”. The use of each modality should be used when the client is ready to use them, the client should never feel rushed to use a modality that they are not ready to use.
While the class participated in the exercise that I gave them there were several things that I observed. Once I explain the exercise the class got right into working on their recent feeling. At first most of the class was rolling out the clay and molding it into balls, but after they finished working the clay the class started to create different shapes and some even created different textures. While clay modeling tools and markers were offered only two or three people took the other materials. One of the people that took the markers to add colors to the white clay to give it a marble effect. The person that took the clay molding tools started with rolling her clay into long snake-like shapes then putting them together so that it looked like ice cream. After that they created weird texture to her emotion creature by adding grooves to the seems, and lastly they gave it a tongue. In the end, this person emotion creature ended up looking like a tornado with a tongue. Another person didn’t use any tools or markers all they did was flatten the clay with their hands and then layer in together, one after another. This person did this using different color clay and each layer was not the same thickness.
After the exercise was over everyone went around the table and talked about the emotion creature they created. Most people created an emotional creature that represents a happier emotion such as happy, giggly, excited. However, there were a few people whose emotions were not happier on. The person who created a tornado with a tongue for their emotion described what they were thinking while they were making it, they said they just have felt rushed and tired from everything going on lately (Midterms). While the person who laid their clay together said that they have been feeling stressed and ran down, that why they were layering the clay because they felt that everything was just getting stacked up. Almost everyone participated verbally in the discussion, there was only one person who didn’t feel like talking about what they created but did show the class. They made a circle with a smiley face on it with heart and flowers around it. The class said they enjoyed the exercise and it was fun trying to convey emotions with the use of clay since it is easier to work with because they were able to change it continually.
Overall I felt that the exercise was effective since the majority of the class did participate. The exercise did encourage the class to discuss their emotions, understand where their feeling was coming from, and why they were feeling the way they were.