Most people are pretty familiar with psychology and the traditional approach to therapy to talk through issues to find greater understanding and find resolutions. But other therapies such as sensorimotor therapies (that use your range of senses) are less understood. One of these is art therapy.
The technique can be used by therapists to assist clients to overcome trauma, but it is also beneficial as a means to personal development. We all have things that are holding us back and preventing us from reaching our full potential, but sometimes it is difficult to articulate.
Sensorimotor Art Therapy can assist you to find a way to access understanding of self through the body, rather than through traditional talking-based therapies.
Sensorimotor Art Therapy: What is it?
Part of the clue for this one is in the term Sensorimotor, which means using both the sensory (i.e. sight, touch, etc) and motor functions, so movement.
Sensorimotor Art Therapy uses symbols through mediums like drawing, painting or clay to allow a person ways to express and give a voice to difficult emotions they are experiencing, that may be difficult to verbalise. The therapy can help a spectrum of people, from those suffering with issues such as grief or those overcoming past trauma, to individuals who are simply feeling a little stuck.
“Laying out our internal experiences through the creative process gives a person more space to feel freed up inside as opposed to feeling overwhelmed and flooded with what is activating and difficult,” says Gabe Clark, Counsellor and Sensorimotor Therapist. “It is not about making pretty pictures or sculptures and no special art skills are needed.”This kind of art therapy is about the process of engaging with the physical materials and the connection of the body’s expression of subconscious inner struggles, rather than the end result of an artwork.
How can you benefit?
Experiencing art therapy is not as simple as picking up a paintbrush or playing around with clay. Qualified Art Therapists are trained to guide participants either in group or private sessions to help them get to the root of issues they may be trying to express or work through.
Gabe explains: “Sensorimotor Art Therapy is an approach which accesses the deeper levels of implicit memory where the effects of traumatic life events are often held, and this should be done with the guidance of a qualified art therapist.”
But while we do not recommend self-therapy as a replacement for a qualified therapist, it is possible to experience some of the benefits of art therapy yourself at home. Research indicates that engaging with art and artistic endeavours can relieve stress, boost your self-esteem and increase your creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Gabe Clark is a facilitator of our Art Therapy workshops on our retreats and runs her own private practice Gabe Clark Sensorimotor Therapies in person in Mansfield, Victoria and also offers online counselling services.
Please note: This article is for information purposes only and not intended to provide advice on mental health treatments. We recommend consulting with a healthcare professional on the avenues most suited to you and your needs.