Art Therapy 

A CHRC model

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is about the making of tangible objects by a unique individual to express his/her feelings, thoughts, and opinions in an active manner; sometimes done instinctively and non-verbally. The artwork can only be interpreted by its creator who chooses to talk about it or to keep it private. But the art piece will always be there as a reference, a statement, or a testimony to be revealed at the right time and the right place; when he/she is ready. We can transform our believed mistakes and we don’t need to have talent…what is important is the process, not the end result. There is never a right or wrong.

How often do we take the time to play, to be a child, and/or try something new? Art therapy offers this break with the art material available and we can experiment with colour combinations, shapes, and forms, etc. Sometimes we don’t have the inspiration, but by starting to play with a piece of clay, doodling with a different type of crayons, or cutting images from magazines, an artwork comes to life. We create metaphors and imagery from our memories that were hidden probably for years and from them we discover our support system, a safe place, our strengths, and fears. The tangibility of these symbols gives us the opportunity to observe, understand, and act toward our personal growth and develop new skills to cope with the ups and downs of our life. It opens doors to a new backyard where we can laugh, lose our judgments, and be in the moment…mindfully. 

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

-Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and theatre designer

Art will bring us where we need to be and we have to trust the process without judging, ruminating about having no talent, and not being an artist.

There is no good or bad art. Art is a nonverbal/universal language for our soul, and its vocabulary are symbols and its sentences are metaphors. Just as Carl Jung did, I believe in the messages in our dreams and to me, our art is the representation of the direction, hints, and subliminal advice from those dreams. Our hands and intuition will sculpt and materialize these unconscious messages from our dreams to guide us to the place in our life where we need to do some work to become the person we are meant to be. Let’s take our dream by the hand and walk the path where it leads us.

On this path we will meet demons and angels, and both negative and positive energy; it takes the darkness to experience the light. Knowing about the polar opposites makes us understand how to reach the right balance. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) tries to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioural changes. During art therapy sessions at Canadian Health Recovery Centre, we use DBT informed art directives to ignite the creative work and directives to help for mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. We explore what is the EMOTION mind, the REASONABLE mind to reach our WISE mind; which is the synthesis greater than both. (Linehan 1993). We work with a print technique to transform negative into positive (see figure 1), we explore the persona through the masks (see figure 2), we experiment with how to deal with the inner critics (see figure 3) and we travel down our journey with the walking stick exercise (see figure 4)…to name just a few.

Creativity cannot flourish and reach its deepest potential without the participation of its demons as well as its angels.

Shaun McNiff, author and artist international author and artist, creativity enhancement

How we help

Art Therapy and Addiction Recovery

Often the person with substance use addiction experiences loneliness, low self-esteem, inability to communicate, and lack of self-control, which can lead to shame, anguish, and rage. At CHRC we work on what is underlying (the cause) the addiction (the effect). We lower the bar of isolation by promoting sociable exchange and interaction; that’s why the group dynamic during the session is very important. We promote empowerment with art directives appropriate for all levels of artistry.

By sharing and talking about our art pieces, we validate experiences. We also funnel negative emotions into positive learning. Using the right (creative) side of our brain, we stimulate and rewire the left (reasonable) side to enhance the skills and ability to problem-solve. Art is both utilized as therapy where we expose our emotional challenges with a professional therapist and also art is a therapy where making art is therapeutic in and of itself.

During the CHRC art therapy group meeting, we build a safe space where everyone can express themselves and learn from the experience of each other, without judgment and with respect and confidentiality. Strong friendships and complicity are developed in a relaxed environment. We are not alone.

Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.

Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst

Contact Us

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Our Location

2225 Lansdowne St West 
Peterborough ON K9J 0G5