Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Relationship Between Art and Therapy

What exactly is “Art Therapy”?

A beautiful definition was provided by Artist and Art Therapist Susan Coblenz Boyes:

“Art Therapy is making art with a person who is educated about how art and your psyche relate. Working with a real Art Therapist (there is a master’s degree and nationally recognized credential for this field!) makes a difference. Because art making is so powerfully transformative, huge shifts can come very quickly. It is important to know how to contain big feelings as they come up. Some of us need containment and some of us are so numbed out and our feelings are so shut down that we need help to become MORE expressive. You might not be aware that some art materials could be triggering to those of us that are carrying scary memories.”

Art as therapy, or the use of the artistic process to reveal and deal with emotions is, to me, an entirely natural concept. As artists and creative types, we use our emotions to channel output, whether this is a work on paper, sculpture or photograph. What is exciting to me, more and more, I see young emerging artists interested in extending their skills to the art of healing.

One such artist was brought to my attention by my longtime friend and educator in this field, MaryJo Welly, who mentors students at Lourdes College, in Sylvania, Ohio. This Spring, she worked with Melinda Hallenbeck, who’s work and artist statement I would like to share with you here.

In her own words:

-Artist Statement and Explanation of Concentration-

“Human instincts and emotions can at time be too basic or complex to articulate solely in words. For many like myself, it is a natural instinct to communicate what we see and feel through images. As a visual statement, I find that images can bring forth a broad range of emotions, interpretations and meanings. Personally I create art for self discovery, self expression and ultimately as a therapeutic creative process. Art is not only a form of communication for me, but a way of life and an essential part of my being.

As an artist, I consider myself a realist. I enjoy and embrace the environment in which I live. Each work of art is a product of my life during a particular moment in time. I capture significant experiences that I feel define who I am as an artist. I find all elements in life intriguing: therefore, I paint, draw and sculpt those things that fascinate me. My passion lies in rendering images as I see them.

At the age of 17, I realized the profound impact art had on my life: I knew I was meant to become an art therapist... I understand art to be a unique approach to self expression as well as a universal form of communication....I made the decision, as a product of my life experiences, to combine my passion for the creative process....with my desire to provide services to the community as a mental health professional”

Congratulations Melinda on a magnificent body of work, and thank you for making American Frame your frame company of choice. Our guess is that your future is extremely bright!

Interested readers can find more information at

Also, see the work available for purchase on the American Frame Art Gallery by Artist and Art Therapist, Susan Coblenz Boyes.


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  2. Art can be a great therapy. This is a perfect way to express the feelings and speat to the world through the colours and paintings. I have learned a lot of interesting details while working on my indian culture essay. I explored a great number of ancient paintings.

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