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Art Therapy

art therapy supplies laid out on a table

What is art therapy?

To keep things simple, I like to think:

mental health support + crayons = art therapy

 

But more accurately, art therapy is a discipline where a credentialed art therapist uses art making, the creative process, and psychotherapy to assist clients to reach their therapeutic goals. It is a specific field of study, similar to, but separate from, other mental health professions (e.g., social work, professional counseling, etc.).

 

Art therapy is a profession, not a modality.

Therapy Beyond Words

 

Art therapy can touch on emotions that words cannot express. The processes we use in art therapy are experiential; they assist you to move outside the realm of thoughts and into active engagement. As you see your emotions expressed in art, you can become more aware and welcome your experience.
 

I work with people experiencing many difficulties, but particularly grief after the death of a loved one. In grief you are flooded with so many emotions and thoughts that you may be at a loss for words—and what few you can muster are simply not enough. Art therapy offers a space beyond words, where you can remain present to the experience of grief and profound loss. To learn more, please visit my Grief Therapy and my Suicide Loss page.

 

To get to know me, please visit my About page.

To learn more about the field overall, please visit the American Art Therapy Association (AATA)

person's hands painting nature images in an art therapy session (Image by Roman Kraft)

What do we "do" in art therapy?

Art therapy sessions look a lot like psychotherapy with the addition of creative practices. Here are four examples:

You make art in session.

I offer prompts that are relevant to you. You work in silence or talk as you create. I remain present, guiding you through the process, or I make art alongside you. We discuss the process at the end.

You make art outside of session.

We discuss the piece during session. We create plans for future projects that relate to your therapeutic goals and you continue your practice outside of session.

We view some other artist's work.

We discuss what thoughts and feelings you have as you look at the image. We use visual language to tap into your experience and increase your self-awareness. 

We simply have a conversation.

We incorporate creative thinking, metaphors, and thought experiments to enhance our conversation. And we come up with actionable steps for you to practice outside of session.

Do I have to be "good" at art?

 

No. You do not have to be "good" at art to engage in art therapy.

This is the most common question I hear from people. Or people tell me, "I can't even draw a stick figure." 

Art therapy emphasizes the process of making art, not just the product. So, you don't need to be "good" at art to engage in art therapy. 

 

There is a myth in our culture that art making is reserved for a select few. Creativity is part of being human. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

"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 back at me, incredulous, and said, 'You mean they forget?'" -Howard Ikemoto

 

I’d like to support you in unlearning that story, realizing the ways in which you are already creative, and discovering how we can further cultivate this part of your human birthright. Whether it be cooking, decorating your home, gardening, or getting dressed in the morning, let's find the ways you are already creative and build from there.

I love working with artists of all stripes, from those who make art their profession, to hobbyists, or people who haven't picked up a crayon since grade school. Wherever you are in your creative human journey, I will meet you there.

Person taking a photograph in nature

Who is this for?

 

I work with creative people who've hit blocks in their life, relationships, or work. Maybe this is due to an acute issue after a major life event. Or this could be due to the slow burn of stress, self-doubt, perfectionism, or developing bad habits.

 

Some of my specialties include:

  • Grief​ and suicide loss

  • Anxiety

  • Trauma and PTSD

  • Addiction and substance use

  • LGBTQIA+

  • Consensual non-monogamy (CNM) and polyamory 

  • Depression

  • General life stress

I work individually with adults (ages 18+).

"Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one." 

- Elizabeth Gilbert

How can this help?

 

You and I will meet, and within our first session or two, we will decide on overarching goals for therapy. These goals will be specifically tailored to your needs. Here are some examples of where to start:

 

If you want to…

…be more creative in your thinking.

…get in touch with your emotions.

…be kinder to yourself.

…feel more at ease.

…find more meaning in life.

…feel more accomplished.

…be able to handle life's difficulties.

…learn to communicate better.

…improve focus.

…develop healthier habits.

...and more…

 

We will adjust these goals as needed when we discover more along the way. And if you still have no clue where you want to go, that's ok! We can work together to find goals that feel right for you.

someone handing a seedling with dirt to another
outdoor art therapy materials on a table (Image by Didhin Kurian)

What do I need to have?

 

I get a ton of questions about materials. Though materials can helpful (and fun!), I promise you don't need anything special to do art therapy.

 

First things first: You do not need to bring art materials to our first session. We will spend most of the time talking, getting to know each other. At the end, we can discuss materials if you would like to pick up a few things after our session. 

 

If you decide to buy some materials for yourself, please know you do not need fancy supplies. Artist quality materials can get REALLY expensive. And believe it or not, you can get a lot of mileage out of supplies from the dollar store. However, if you need recommendations for higher quality materials, I've tried many, and I'm happy to discuss this with you more in depth. 

 

We can also expand our ideas about what constitutes "art materials." Sure, we can work with all kinds of traditional art media, like pencils, watercolor, fiber, or clay. But we can also assemble less traditional art materials like leaves, sticks, rocks, and ash. Or we can use methods like photography or digital art to enhance your visual expression.

 

There are so many possibilities, and we can work with what you have—even if it's only your cellphone camera, a pen, and some paper.

Where do we meet?

In-Person

I have a studio space located in Black Mountain, NC.

Online (Telehealth)

You can be anywhere in North Carolina.

In-Person Art Therapy

In-person art therapy is a more traditional approach to art therapy. You come into my studio space located in Black Mountain, NC (east of Asheville). I have all the materials here you need. However, you may want to keep a sketchbook or journal to use in and out of session or bring a few favorite materials. 

I divide my space into two areas: an area to sit and talk, and an area to sit or stand at a table and make art—and get a little messier. You can also make art at the couch if this is more comfortable. 

 

At my studio space, there is a beautiful backyard where we can sketch or talk outside. We can also venture out to a local walking trail to connect more with nature. 

 

Before or after session, you can create a more immersive experience by spending time in nature. Black Mountain is beautiful, with lots of access to parks and trails. You can spend some time there on your own—either to set an intention before or to process after a session. 

office and studio for Creative Nature NC, at 1141 Montreat Rd, Black Mountain, NC
person sitting with laptop for an art therapy session (Image by Surface)

Online Art Therapy

 

You do not need to go somewhere to do art therapy. 

 

Telehealth (online) art therapy is just as effective as in-person art therapy. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. One location is not better than another, they are just different

 

One advantage to telehealth art therapy is you can more quickly develop your own art practice outside of sessions. I come into your studio space—which can be a journal on your lap or your favorite hiking trail. When our session is over, you may continue creating art and clean up at your own pace. Your materials are always with you.

 

Though I am located in Black Mountain, NC (east of Asheville), I offer art therapy to anyone in the state of North Carolina. You can connect through video on a computer, tablet, or your phone.

 

Like in-person meetings, you can set intentions for yourself in preparation for our time together or spend time afterwards processing any additional thoughts. You are not limited by the time constraints of being in the office or the commute. The time is yours, and I simply pop in for part of your experience. Many of my clients develop a practice of organizing their thoughts before we meet, finding they are primed and ready to dive in once I arrive.

Art therapy your way

Whatever you find fits best into your life and your style, we can make that happen. You can make art in session, bring in art you've made, or just talk. You can try in-person or online art therapy—or a combination of the two. You can try a few traditional or non-traditional materials and add to your repertoire as you discover more about yourself. We will learn as we go and make adjustments when needed.

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