Artist, Art Therapy, Psychotherapy and Belief Statement

I believe all people have the need and ability to create. Using various art and therapy methods I provide a safe and empathetic environment, to encourage life-enhancing expression that brings wholeness, physically, emotionally and spiritually to people's life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Art and Art Therapy: A difference?

Over 2 years ago Zentangle® and Quilting brought to my attention the importance of art to our health, well-being and spirituality. In the last several months I have been more deeply involved with sharing my passion of art and health with others in both the Seniors population and within the Spiritual community of Mennonites. My work at St. Clair West Services for Seniors has reinforced what I experienced personally through my creativity with Zentangle® and Quilting. Creativity and expression are fundamental to our being human. The ability to create through art, baking, quilting, drawing, woodworking, dancing, etc. are ways that we as humans imagine and process our beliefs and feelings. Some of us may 'feel' and 'be' more 'artistic' than others but we all create in some way.

To some, what seems like a simple and benign pastime, in actuality enhances and expresses our sense of self. To deny this activity is to sever our connection with self, community and God. From early times, humans have created as a means to express and explore meaning about life and the spiritual world. Art was and is a means of celebration and prayer. Everyone can be creative and express themselves – it is not about making representative and beautiful art.

What is the difference between art and art therapy? How does the activity of art-making change when it is within the relationship of art therapy? This is the question I continue to ask as I work. There are many great programs that provide safe and encouraging environments for art-making. The activity of the recreation therapist, the gerontology activationist, the art workshop facilitator, the choral director are important and effective relationships that promote creativity and self-expression. So how is this different with an art therapist? One current discussion within the art therapy world is how the use of colouring books is promoted. Isn’t the work with a colouring books similar to working with an art therapist? No. Working with an art therapist in any creative activity is different because it is the relationship and mirroring activity of being with another person in a therapeutic atmosphere. The art therapist provides a safe, reflective environment that promotes a deeper internal awareness of the process and the creative product. This enlivens self-understanding, recognition of ideas and the expression of self and promotes change in the process.

Dare I say, even Zentangle® within the relationship with an Art Therapist or counselor changes, because the mindful drawing is used to promote reflection and awareness, rather than focusing on the creation of beautiful abstract images. The art therapist is able to help the clients access their internal self-knowledge through the mirroring in relationship and the therapeutic presence. Art-making is an important and effective as a tool for self-expression and connection with internal awareness.

Growing heart - Acrylic. April 2015. Showing the influence on the counselor from the therapeutic relationship. 
In my last year, I created a workshop called “Contemplative Creation” which uses the frame of Lectio Divina and Zentangle® as a means of prayer and connection with God. I presented this workshop, along with an introductory Zentangle® workshop at the Mennonite World Conference in July. Both were well-accepted having twice the attendance as indicated (over 60 came to each when only 30 were expected). I was thrilled by the interest of the youth as well as adults. Using art as a means of expression and connection with God can have powerful and long-lasting impacts on people’s involvement with God. Every person has a unique way of learning and being in the world, and our ways of connection with God are not all the same. Using art provides another means of worship which can include and connect with God.

I will be teaching Zentangle® 101 on Sunday, September 20th 1-4 p.m. at the Harmony Community Centre in Oshawa. Tickets are available at . Info also at .

As well as more Zentangle® classes I am also planning a date to teach the contemplative creation practice, to promote meditation and spiritual connection through art. I hope you will join me and explore the world that art takes you.

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