What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy uses the act of creativity as a therapeutic tool.
The piece of art created is not as important as the creative process itself, facilitated by the art therapist, and it is this that enables children and young people to explore their feelings, develop awareness, manage their behaviours, develop social skills, understand and lessen their anxiety and increase their self-esteem. Art therapy can be used alone, or in combination with other therapies, and is particularly valuable for children and young people who find it uncomfortable, and sometimes impossible, to engage with talk therapies. I have found it particularly effective when working with children and young people with anxiety, clinical depression, autism and selective mutism.
The subject of, and techniques used in, the artwork are dictated by the child or young person’s needs and abilities. Methods can include, but are not limited to, drawing, painting, sculpture and collage. Fluid art, a technique I find particularly valuable, when acrylic paint and pouring medium are used to create an organic, free form painting effect with vibrant swirls and cells of colours, is often a relaxing and satisfying starting point. I provide plenty of space and a wide choice of materials, so important to allow the freedom of expression needed.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality (VR) is a digitally simulated experience. It places the user inside the simulated world, allowing them to view and interact with it as if they were really there. Without any visual or noise disturbance, a child can become immersed in the creative process, see their creation from 360 degrees, and even walk through it.
Programmes can be used to promote concentration or co-ordination, to help relaxation, to spark creativity and challenge the most inquisitive of minds.
I have found VR helpful for clients with physical limitations, and high levels of AD/HD (how this is written to be discussed) and anxiety; equally it has been valuable for children who are extremely shy or selective mutes – they feel more free to express themselves in this virtual set-up. Just a few of the many programmes support relaxation, mindfulness and meditation. VR also has value in helping to build a child’s self-esteem as they are in total control of their creation. Its versatility is immense; for example, an autistic child who struggles with making an unfamiliar journey can see what the journey would be like and prepare for it.
There is no doubt that VR is a valuable addition to the work of the Art Therapist. Currently, I primarily offer VR workshops to schools and groups, although it is also possible for individuals to partake on occasion.
As a working artist and former university art teacher, I love to communicate my passion for art and share my technical expertise. I can provide art tuition in many media, with the aim of developing creativity and freedom of expression, and I can also mentor the production of portfolios for GCSE and ‘A’ Level Art.