Expressive Communication-Art Therapy

Caroline Hussey, Reporter

“What is art therapy?” It’s a question that many might ask. An art therapist like Bill Schwartz can explain art therapy as “a mental health counseling service with someone who is trained to use art as one of the modalities or languages that we use to get to whatever it is you need to get to.”

So if someone were having trouble communicating something that they need to tell, they could use art as a way to explain what it is they are trying to convey. “It’s very specific, going with the idea that art materials can be used to help us discover things about ourselves and also express things we don’t just want to say with our words,” says Schwartz.

This art can include anything that has to do with visual arts; some examples being, painting, drawing, claymations, or printmaking. There are some other categories that art therapy can be in, as art expands beyond a painting. “It’s not exclusive to any particular media,” asserts art therapist intern Ms. Grobe, “I do know there are some art therapists who will incorporate things like movement as a part of the art-making.”

There are, however, expressive art therapists who specialize in incorporating arts such as dancing, writing or drama therapy. Art therapy can be used to cope with any notable amount of stress in a person’s life. “Any reason you might want to receive counseling services, art therapy can be applied,” remarks Schwartz.

At Alton High school art therapy may only be used by students after they have been identified by the social work team or an administrator. Due to the program being limited, students may only take part when there is an opening. “Whatever kind of stress is in the way, presumably they’re coming to the art room and working on that. It is very specifically designed to help alleviate stress so they can focus on school.” Art therapy appears to be a good way for some people to help them cope, communicate their issues, or relieve stress.