Reason Number Three: is because most art therapists believe in and practice play. People usually come to therapy when they feel stuck, tired of repeating patterns, a need to solve an issue or they want change. Play can free people to move into the change they want in their life. It is well known that children learn through play; however, what is forgotten is that learning through play is available to adults as well. Throughout life play can help keep us awake, aware, mindful, mentally and physically alert, feeling young, and imaginative.
Engagement in play reduces stress and increases joy. But what would that look like in a therapy session you may ask? Well, it might be playing a game, doing a sand tray exercise that helps you get in touch with what you are grateful for in life. It may involve picking a saying out of the pocket of my life size Mr. Toad or painting while blindfolded.
Play in therapy may be eating something delicious in my pink fairy tent or playing with material. I like to make opportunities for playful experiences that invite imagination and magic into the therapy room.
Play is having a trust with spontaneity, entering imagination, going where we are interested, and moving through struggle. Play allows us to enter feelings of joy and pleasure, practice free expression, and attuning to the things around us playfully. Being playful can help move you in the direction of nonlinear, intuitive and spontaneous expression. Play and art can open up the creative cognitive processes, which allows for broad scanning ability, fluidity of thinking, flexibility, insight, synthesizing abilities, and divergent thinking.
Most important, being playful opens us to being able to perceive ourselves differently. Even when we are facing serious life crisis, humour, play and lightness can be part of our everyday experience. When we are facing obstacles and trauma we usually shut down or become structurally bound, which means not being full bodied in situations. If we are fully immersed in our trauma memory, we can become frozen which means that we are acting as though we are still in the past experience. It is not fluid new material but frozen old material that is being reenacted. Play allows us to expand, instead of contract. Play moves us into being process-bound, which means not reacting from the past or repetition of the past, rather acting from a present and awake state. Play and playfulness allows us to increasingly experience the richness of the moment.
Next week I will share reason number four as to why you should see an Art Therapist.