It is amazing to discover that art has existed at times when we imagine physical survival to have been the uppermost priority. Perhaps this can tell us that the human being has regarded survival of the soul as being at least of equal importance to physical survival, if not more so. The ancient cave paintings testify to this and recently even older works of art have been discovered.
“Continuous exposure to the arts is one of the best ways to prepare ourselves for relationship: Much better than relying on the psychological in our approach to life. More important than the particular theme we find in the arts which may give us insight into relationship is the general education in poetic thinking and living that the arts provide. Through immersion in the arts, our reflection on life becomes larger, so that when we are confronted with the challenges of relationship we will have a rich imagination to bring to them and the ability to think poetically.” Thomas Moore “Soul Mates” ISBN 0-06-092-496-9
Art is a gateway into the soul. When we practice art we play- just as earnestly as we did when we were children. We can communicate something from the depth of our soul without using words and can thus be more truly in tune with ourselves.
Art therapy recognises the tremendous power and necessity for art in our lives. It is my firm conviction that life without the presence of art life will become empty and shallow and ultimately lead to illness of both body and soul. We all know that we need to exercise our bodies in order to keep fit. What we may be less aware of is that our soul too needs exercising if it is not to become inert and paralysed, hyperactive or chaotic. Continuing stress, anxiety, depression, worry or a feeling of inadequacy often leads to physical illness.
In the practice of art therapy I use the process of art itself to rekindle the will to be whole. I see the human being itself as a work of art – the beauty and wisdom of our body and the longings and aspirations of our soul. We can describe illness or the feeling of being unwell in artistic terms – what is lacking, what is too much – and in doing so provide the tools to address imbalances. Art becomes becomes in this way the healing agent.
By engaging with certain specific and tailor made artistic exercises, our emotions and feelings can be stimulated, calmed or ordered according to the individual disposition and situation that has led to illness or crisis – and it can be fun too! Many people starting out with Art Therapy often report that their powers of observation have been greatly enhanced, their sensitivity to and appreciation of colours in nature stimulated and that they become aware of hidden parts of themselves and discover an inner source of creativity. Art Therapy can also accompany a person on this journey.