What is therapy?
In therapy a clinically trained therapist offers help based on techniques from different schools of thought and established methodologies.
Clinical Psychology, for example, is an academic discipline that focuses on the integration of science, theory, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving distress or dysfunction and aid change. Someone who has completed a profession oriented degree program and had several years of training in the field of clinical psychology, may use the therapist title ‘Psychologist’.
In general, all therapies can be said to fall in one of two categories; individual therapy and group therapy. Both can be supplemented with an art-therapeutic method.
What happens during individual therapy?
Individual therapy is often called ‘conversation therapy’ or simply ‘talk-therapy’. In this form of therapy you meet your therapist by yourself, in a therapist’s office, at regular, agreed upon intervals.
A Psychologists most important tool is meeting and talking with you. In this form of treatment, problems are explored through language in a structured manner, in a 'safe-enough' (supporting-enough and challenging-enough) space, facilitated by the therapist. During the conversation the focus will be on you, your inner life, actions or relations, in a way that is only seldom possible with friends and family. At the same time, it is a professionalized relationship where you pay the therapist for their time and services.
What happens during group therapy?
In group therapy, group members share stories and problems with each other, listen to, support, exchange advice and sometimes challenge each other.
In this form of therapy the therapist acts as a facilitator for healthy group relations and regulate the boundaries of the group.
Some consider small groups as a miniature version of the external world, meaning that any relational difficulties experienced in your everyday life can be expected to express themselves there, given time. At which point it is possible to address and explore this in this safe-enough setting. The group can then be a place to try out new ways of being.
When a groups functions optimally, group members may experience feelings of belonging and being part of something continuous which is larger than oneself. At times when you feel stuck or stagnated, listening to other patients problems and how they have attempted or failed to solve them, can lead to insights about your own struggles you wouldn't otherwise have had. People can also have an easier time accepting help from people in similar situations to themselves, or find it intimidating to meet therapists individually.
Another advantage to group therapy is that sessions can be offered at a lower rate than individual sessions, as the therapist's time and services are shared by several patients simultaneously.
What happens during art therapy?
Art therapy combines talk-therapy and the creative process in the service of health and change.
This approach uses art media and our tendency to create, symbolize and express ourselves, as a therapeutic tool to help initiate change.
The most popular techniques used are painting, drawing, or modeling with clay. The art therapeutic process is twofold and cyclical - You create an image, followed by a dialogue with the group therapist and/or other group members about what you created.
You do not need to an art education or previous experience in making art to attend art therapy.
The goal is not to perfect your expression, but rather to attempt something and to wonder together. The art production is non-directive and many experience this as novel and liberating.
Since self-expression in art therapy comes about through imagery, rather than verbalized language, art therapy is an effective way to approach unformulated experiences, like early trauma or blind spots on our personality, cases where our spoken language often falls short.