is Art Therapy?
by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., A.T.R.,
Pioneer Expressive Arts Therapist
I became an Art Therapist in 1975 after healing an
"incurable" disease primarily through spontaneous drawing and writing.
At the time of my illness, I was a professional artist and teacher.
I had never heard of art therapy and at that time, there were no
popular books on Art Therapy. My spontaneous self-exploration through art was
undoubtedly guided by a higher healing power within, taking me step-by-step back
home to my Inner Self...
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which the client
usually creates some form of artwork such as a drawing, doodles, a sculpture
made of clay, collage, or other 2 or 3 dimensional art. None of these techniques
require any special talent, experience or training in the “arts”.
The artwork is then used as a focus for reflection in words
between the client and therapist. This artwork is used in much the same way as
dreams are used in therapy because both artwork and dreams access the
unconscious very rapidly.
My approach to Art Therapy includes keeping a journal or diary,
using both art and writing. This tool, which I call The Creative Journal Method,
guides the individual through focus questions about different areas of life.
Usually activities begin with a drawing or some form of art expression, followed
by reflective writing about the images. When the feelings are captured in
artwork and interpreted in journal writing, powerful insights are the result.
One of the great advantages of art therapy is it fosters use
of both sides of the brain. The nonverbal art expression is primarily a right
brain process; the writing is coming from the left-brain language centers.
My Creative Journal Method includes another technique that
integrates both hemispheres of the brain! As documented in my second book "The
Power of Your Other Hand" this technique includes written dialogs using
both hands alternately. Writing with the non-dominant hand is a proven method
for letting the left brain know what the right brain is thinking. This is a
powerful tool for use in therapy and also for opening up creativity in all areas
of one's life. None of these techniques require any special talent, experience
or training in the arts.
Since the mid-1970's I have shared my discoveries at
seminars for people of all ages and occupations in: schools and colleges,
churches, corporations, counseling centers, and spiritual retreats.
The feedback from my workshop participants (over 50,000 people
have attended my workshops over the years) has been so
inspiring, especially in regard to the healing power of art, that I was moved to
write books which tell their stories of healing through art and journal writing.
When you read my story in any of my books, you will see how the
Inner Artist has played the role of healer throughout my life. Through the
writing and drawing exercises, affirmations, visualizations, meditations, and
inspirational stories, I hope you will find the healing power of your own Inner
Artist. I have found that tremendous love - for yourself and for others -
becomes the overflowing pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It comes with the
joy of finding and expressing your own truth.
If you are dealing with a life-threatening or chronic condition, an excellent
book to start with is "The
Picture of Health - Healing Your Life with Art" (click to see table of
Please subscribe to our Newsletter. You will receive the 1st issue within minutes. It goes in-depth into "When Words are not enough... using the Expressive Arts and Living with Feeling". After you sign up it takes you to our Living With Feeling - The Art of Expression page, so just hit Back in your browser to return to this page.
“Confessional writing has been around at least since the
Renaissance, but new research suggests that it’s far more therapeutic than
anyone ever knew... Researchers found direct physiological evidence [that
writing about your feelings and experiences is good for your physical health]:
writing increased the level of disease-fighting lymphocytes circulating in the
— Newsweek, April, 1999
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Please subscribe to our Newsletter. You will receive the 1st issue within minutes. It goes in-depth into "When Words are not enough... using the Expressive Arts and Living with Feeling". After you sign up it takes you to our Self-Discovery bookstore so just hit Back in your browser to return to this page.