Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Power of Art Therapy

This post came across my email recently on "The" Art Therapy Blog about testimonials from hospital patients engaging in art. Click here to read the post in its entirety. I have included the video below.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coolest Top 10 Art Therapy Interventions

Cathy Malchiodi is doing a series with her "Healing Arts" blog on Psychology Today, and is listing the coolest Top 10 art therapy interventions. I wanted to repost it here for everyone's benefit.

The Ten Coolest Art Therapy Interventions
By Cathy Malchiodi
Created Feb 11 2010 - 1:42pm

For my next series of posts, I am taking a cue from PT colleague Ryan Howes who is just finishing up a fascinating series called The Ten Coolest Therapy Interventions. Howes' mission in his blog and his popular postings is to demystify the elements and process of psychotherapy for the public. Like Howes, I feel that when potential clients understand what therapy entails, they are more likely to find the internal courage to seek help from a qualified professional. They also become more educated consumers, capable of "co-creating" [no art therapy pun intended] the course of their therapy and more invested in the process of healing.

No doubt some colleagues will cringe at the idea of making public some of the more common techniques used in the field of art therapy. However, "what is art therapy" is one of the best-kept secrets in the field of mental health. You might be surprised that on some days I wake up wondering what the heck art therapy is because so much misinformation about it abounds on a Google search. Art therapy is the brunt of jokes by Dr. House and some embarrassing therapeutic moments on Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab; Tiger is apparently getting some art therapy, too and I can't wait to hear about that on the Joy Behar Show some night. To counteract the media, my intention is to both help you understand what art therapy is about and why it complements and enhances traditional verbal therapy approaches to treatment.

All helping professionals know that no one intervention can be applied to all clients; they know that the best interventions are those that are tailored to clients' needs and their presenting situations. As an art therapist, I can say from experience that this challenge is the "coolest" part of my work with clients--to invent a creative strategy to promote change, insight, and well-being. A good art therapist, like a good psychologist, counselor, or family therapist, is adept at innovation and creative adaptation. A good art therapist also knows that for many clients, no technique is needed if the client is capable of creative expression without a directive or gimmick.

My criteria for determining the "coolest" art therapy interventions include:

Historical Tradition: Interventions commonly taught to therapists-in-training in the field of art therapy and related mental health professions;
Innovation: Use of a specific art material or visual media to address clients' presenting problems or for the health and well-being of clients;
Adaptation: Development of a specific intervention based on a psychotherapeutic approach such as psychoanalysis, CBT, or other model;
Popularity: Consistent appearance in literature, conferences, or workshops, whether it's the actual intervention or a variation of the intervention.

For the most part, I'll be focusing on interventions used with adults, but some will also apply to work with children, groups, couples, or families. I'll try to give you a brief history of each intervention through the lens of art therapy and the influences of psychology, counseling, marriage and family therapy, art, and culture on that intervention. I'll will also be explaining a little bit of how an intervention might be adapted to suit individual needs and situations in the spirit of "one size does not fit all."

Like Howes, I am not going to talk about evidence-based approaches or outcomes. I am also not going talk about the use of art to evaluate or assess emotional or other disorders; that is a topic both fascinating and controversial and a subject for another blog series.

Finally, to paraphrase Howes, reading these brief posts is no substitute for the education it takes to understand how to effectively and ethically apply them to practice. Competent therapists always get adequate training before applying any intervention. And consumers or potential clients, if you have a mental health challenge or disorder, please contact a therapist with appropriate credentials and education rather than attempting to apply these interventions to yourself.

So here they are: The Ten Coolest Art Therapy Interventions.
Click the link to read each post [links will go live as each blog is posted]:

10.February 16th, 2010 - Magazine Photo Collage

1. October 31, 2010 - The Art Therapist's Third Hand

PS: I don't expect that everyone who reads these posts will agree with my choices, but that is part of the rationale for this series, too. If you are an art therapist or a therapist who uses art or visually-based methods in your practice, let me know your thoughts; in fact I welcome your opinion right now [if you know me, you know it won't influence me in the least, but you also know I always love a good dialogue]. And thank you, Ryan, for the inspiration.

@ 2010 Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC

Join the growing community of art therapists from around the world at the International Art Therapy Organization [IATO]. One world, many visions...working together to create an inclusive and sustainable future for art therapy.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Magazine Clipping Templates

Over the last couple of years or so, my interns and I have been culling our old magazines at work for the "gem" phrases that would be good for reuse in collaging and pasting them in templates by topic so that they can be reused more than just once. I thought this could be valuable to share with other art therapists out there, so feel free to download the scanned color PDF's that I have made of the words and phrases we have found. As we complete more pages, I will update the pertinent documents and keep the document links with the most recent copies that I have. I hope you find our efforts helpful for your practice!!


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Art Therapy Directives

If you're like me, I can't get enough resources and ideas to use as directives for my art therapy groups and individual sessions. Some ideas come from pure brainstorming, but I have found that idea sharing from mentors and colleagues has been an invaluable source of art therapy exercises. I am including some of mine here that (as far as I know) aren't already published or copyrighted, or they are a synopsis on a topic with the websites or credit given. I hope that you find them helpful, and if you have ones you'd like to share, please do!

Different colors describe happiness, depression

Study could help doctors gauge moods of patients with verbal challenges
By Stephanie Pappas
updated 8:17 p.m. ET, Mon., Feb. 8, 2010

Are you in a gray mood today? How about a blue funk? Maybe you're seeing red, because you're green with jealousy. The colors we use to describe emotions may be more useful than you think, according to new research.

The study found that people with depression or anxiety were more likely to associate their mood with the color gray, while happier people preferred yellow. The results, which are detailed today in the journal BMC Medical Research Methodology, could help doctors gauge the moods of children and other patients who have trouble communicating verbally.

"This is a way of measuring anxiety and depression which gets away from the use of language," study co-author and gastroenterologist Peter Whorwell of University Hospital South Manchester told LiveScience. "What is very interesting is that this might actually be a better way of capturing the patient's mood than questions."

Colors are often used as metaphors for moods, but no one had systematically researched color associations, Whorwell said. To investigate, he and his colleagues picked eight colors — red, orange, green, purple, blue, yellow, pink and brown — and split each into four shades. They then added white, black and four shades of gray for a total of 38 options. After meeting with focus groups, the researchers decided to display the colors in the form of a wheel.

Next, they recruited 105 healthy adults, 110 anxious adults and 108 depressed adults and mailed them printouts of the color wheel . Each person was asked to pick their favorite color, as well as the color they were most "drawn to." Finally, they were asked to pick a color that described their day-to-day mood over the last several months. Another group of 204 healthy volunteers classified each color as positive, negative or neutral.

Whether depressed, anxious or healthy, people liked blue and yellow. Blue 28 on the color wheel was the most popular favorite color among healthy people, while Blue 27 (which is a little darker than 28) got first place among people with anxiety and depression. Meanwhile, Yellow 14 was picked as the color most likely to catch the eye.

But when it came to mood, the groups diverged. Only 39 percent of healthy people associated their mood with a color at all. Of those who did, Yellow 14 was the most popular choice, with about 20 percent of the votes. Meanwhile, about 30 percent of people with anxiety picked a shade of gray, as did more than half of depressed volunteers. In comparison, healthy volunteers described their mood with a shade of gray only about 10 percent of the time.

The researchers also found that when assigning a mood to colors, saturation matters.

"A light blue is not associated with a poor mood, but a dark blue is," Whorwell said. "The shade of color is more important than the color itself."

Whorwell is now testing the wheel on patients with irritable bowel syndrome. He's hoping that color choices can reveal patients' attitudes and predict how well they will respond to treatments like hypnosis. Because people are embarrassed by gastroenterogical symptoms, Whorewell said, non-verbal methods of getting information are sometimes preferable to conversation. And, he said, with additional research, the wheel could be used in medical fields from pediatrics to surgery.

"You've got an instrument now," Whorwell said. "Now people have to play with it and find out the applications."

Friday, February 05, 2010

About Art Therapy

Here is the promo to a DVD by art therapist Pamela Hayes. I've been to a couple of her trainings, and she is very good. Please look into it if you're interested in art therapy!