frequently asked questions
I’m new to psychotherapy. What can I expect?
Each person’s process and experience is unique, but typically I email you a set of initial questions about yourself and your life for you to bring to your first session. Then at our first meeting we discuss your responses to the questions, identifying key areas of your life in which you would like more clarity/empowerment. We’ll discuss your goals and how many sessions you may need. If you would like to go straight into an art psychotherapy session we'll chat about materials and decide on suitable art materials for you, and then we'll begin the process of discovery and expression. We will talk about what you experienced in the creating phase and I may ask you questions about areas of the work. However, you may just prefer to talk and not do any art activities, which is fine.
Will you give me advice?
I prefer not to give advice. The process will be much more meaningful if you come to trust your own decisions and act on your own awareness.
What exactly is Art Therapy?
Art therapy refers to ways of using art ranging on the one hand from creating art to feel good, to using art as a means of self-discovery and healing. We all know the expression ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, and when we draw, paint or make things in 3D, we can so easily express more than words can say.
Will my artwork be used to analyse me?
No! You are always the expert on your life and on anything you have expressed through your art. The therapist may ask you questions about what you created or how you felt as you were creating various parts of it, but it’s your answers that matter and not anyone else’s interpretation.
What if my art reveals things I don’t want to discuss with the therapist?
You can of course choose not to say anything at all about your art. However, it would be helpful to reflect on it in your own time or write about your thoughts as you look at it. Sometimes, when looking at your art, you will see some aspect of your life in a different way, and it’s helpful to jot down actions you could take in relation to any insights you have.
How long will I be in therapy?
Some people come to discuss something very specific that takes a single session to work through. Most people find it useful to make a commitment to there to five sessions in order for a particular issue to be understood and resolved. Still others prefer ongoing support for a year or two, or even more. It really depends on your area of concern, and on how much support you may want in order to see it through to resolution.
Do I have to make art in every session?
You do not have to make art in every session. Many people like to just talk things over. However it's fairly common for people to get to enjoy the element of surprise that often accompanies an art therapy session, as we open up to associations and symbols that help us to take a different perspective on our lives.
The sand tray is an easy way to work playfully and symbolically without getting the paints out.
Do I have to be artistic?
No. In fact, you might be much freer with your expression if you don’t actually know much about art! Do keep in mind that Art psychotherapy is quite different from drawing and painting realistically.
Collage - it's often quicker and easier to recognize a meaningful image in a magazine, than to draw it.
Sand tray work - again, we simply recognize the symbols that have meaning for us, and place them in the sand.