On line art therapy – thinking outside the studio box

We are experiencing strange times at the moment. And we don’t really know when this situation is going to end, or what sort of a future we will find ourselves in. However, in the meantime, we can support each other by connecting through the wonders of technology. Things are different but we can embrace these changes as opportunities to learn and grow – new skills, new experiences, and unexpected outcomes.

Online Art Therapy can be really convenient, offering the benefit of establishing connections with others while staying at home. As I am reflecting on the last few weeks of March and April and my new experiences with virtual art therapy, I would like to share with you some of my observations.

As with traditional art therapy, participants do not need to be artistic, nor good at art to benefit from taking part in the art therapy sessions. However, the emphasis in art therapy online, or by distance, is not on the art making nor on the art materials, but rather on the feeling of connection with clients and their experiences. I have found that the art making can even take place between sessions, not necessarily within the session itself, and then the client can bring the artwork to the following session to share and reflect upon.

The most important thing for me as a therapist is to keep my client in my consciousness and for the client to know that I’m there for them. No matter what tool we are using to connect, where it is, if it’s in the studio or via the computer, the client needs to feel connected and supported.

I can continue to assure the client that I care about them and their experience, and that I am here to “meet” them in whichever way works for them.

The client can use the screen-share option on Zoom, for example, allowing us both to look at an image together in the session. This can be used for any image that the client can access on their computer, such as a painting or photograph he or she has made, or something created by another artist.

I recently came across a reading by the art therapist and author, Nona Orbach, about the importance of the number of art works we make when we engage in art therapy sessions and the use of the metronome as a metaphor…

Nona Orbach states that creating a number of drawings will support our wellbeing. We can think of it as the heart’s metronome. Like breathing. One breath at a time, and then it becomes a series of breaths. If you are able to create a series of artwork it’s like you manage to create your own inner metronome. The metronome will help the rhythm and maintenance of your heart and possibly healing.

Let’s try and do some more artwork! and let’s keep the connection.

Please feel free to just email me a photo of something you like around your home, it doesn’t have to be a drawing or a painting. This can open a new conversation. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll feel a sense of comfort and connection.