In the simplest terms, art-based therapy is a psychotherapy that makes use of the art process instead of more traditional verbal therapies.
The COVID-19 era has radically changed lifestyles, lives and ways of working. However, the shift to online engagement is unexpected but proving to be user-friendly and productive.
The stress and fear that exploded in the initial weeks of the pandemic created have seemingly abated, and people have settled down in acceptance and surrender. However, research shows an increase in people seeking online help to deal with the mist of the scars that have slowly wafted deep into crevices of the subconscious mind.
The psychotherapy or art-based therapy, until now, was an industry depending on one-on-one tactile interaction. The art-based therapy mental health community required the therapists to maintain a well-stocked art and craft material storage closet. As an art therapist, I was always on the lookout to add to my Pandora’s box of exciting art materials and crafts of varying textures that might appeal to different clients with varying motor skills.
Online Watercolour Therapy in Art
The evolution of art-based therapy online has given a surprising upward lift to the therapy itself and is proving to be quite an effective experience. The COVID-19 isolation has brought many people who seek therapies to educate themselves and increase their knowledge in the maze of technical skills. Right from classrooms to a board meeting, ballet classes, yoga and art classes. Everything has moved to online platforms.
Carrying out an art therapy session online or web-based therapy was rare and non-existing until now. However, it seems to offer tangible benefits compared to in-person psychotherapy and holds a lot of promise. Online therapy is so much more convenient as it takes less time away from the office, your workday or worries about traffic. It is cheaper and online communication can seem comfortable and easier rather than talking to a real person about personal information.
Why should everyone paint?
Painting is seen as a creative activity that only people of the high calibre of creativity can only indulge in. The psychological premise behind this myth describes it is of exploring your mind through the spontaneity of colour and shapes enhances authenticity and increases self-empowerment.
It amplifies awareness and self-discovery on a deeper level and acts as a reflection of the body, mind, and spirit, increasing insight into your inner emotions, memories, and experiences.
Painting in your own time, in the peace of your home, and a subject matter that you relate to can be one of the most rewarding experiences. However, distraction and the challenge of getting it all together can prove quite daunting to those who lack structure, motivation, and time management.
That’s where people invest in a therapist to walk them down. Having guidance serves a myriad of different functions for different people.
Primarily, the process of painting focuses on issues of inner chaos and creates order. The watercolour medium is inherently mindful, relaxing, and life-affirming – it reduces anxiety and naturally induces a state of flow.
Having chosen to specialise in watercolours as the medium of my online classes, I am often wonderstruck at how the medium in itself is a factor of encouraging mindfulness and creating a focus that calms the mind.
Controlling the flow of water and learning the graceful freedom that comes with control of water and surrender to its magic is one of the therapeutic techniques of the medium.
You Don’t Have to be an Artist to Enjoy Painting
As adults, we tend to become control freaks; falling victim to the myth that we are supposed to create magnificent art and constantly judge our work through the eyes of others. With online art, we tend to loosen up and debunk this myth, as there is no wrong way to express yourself creatively — just a willingness to be open to the process. But you don’t have to be an artist to enjoy painting and benefit from the therapy it provides.
Once the pressure of having to create good art falls off with the guidance of a therapist, the true art therapy starts. I have observed how the process of painting acts as a reflection of the body, mind and spirit to enhance insight into your emotions, memories, and experiences.
The materials used are simple, cheap and easily available, which is what makes this medium easy to flow into. The beginner’s kits are simple and cheap as well. The materials are introduced to my students with links to the art materials or I provide them with the kit to take off from with the primary reminder: When we do this self-art therapy exercise, we want to practice non-judgment and acceptance. There is no right or wrong way to make art. Simply focus on enjoying the process.
ARTROOMTHERAPY, South Jakarta