Recently, the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) partnered with Museo de las Americas to launch an art therapy exhibit, Las Adas, which will be on display beginning in October. The exhibit will display a kaleidoscope of beautifully handcrafted butterflies, submitted by domestic violence survivors, advocates and allies. Creating the butterflies – a symbol of hope, joy, new beginnings and transformation – is not only therapeutic for the artist but inspirational to those still suffering or recovering. You can learn more about this unique art therapy activity and download a template to create and submit your own butterfly here.
Always excited to get involved with an art therapy project, Creative Counseling Center asked its counselors and clients to contribute to Las Adas! We had so much fun making a batch of amazingly beautiful butterflies – each a unique symbol of hope, strength, and metamorphosis – that we wanted to provide you with even more art therapy ideas. Here are Psychology Today’s top 10 coolest art therapy interventions, and we have to agree that these are pretty cool!
creative activities for adults
1. The “third hand;” the essence of what makes art therapists different from other counselors – even those who use art therapy in their practice. The “third hand” is, in essence, the way that an art therapist uses his or her artistic competence to contribute to the mental health and overall wellbeing of others.
2. Active imagination; At the intersection of Freud’s concept of free association and Jung’s invention of active imagination is a clear pathway to the use of art in psychotherapy. Active imagination is, at its core, a way of tapping into your inner wisdom in order to open a dialogue with your unconscious mind. It manifests in the translation of feelings and emotions into visualization, art, play and imagination, and is oftentimes results in inward peace.
3. The power of metaphor; art therapy is, after all, a series of visual metaphors used to describe an individual’s perceptions, beliefs and feelings. Regardless of medium, art therapy helps patients express themselves through a visual language that is their own.
4. Visual journaling; any art therapy technique backed by Da Vinci and Stephen Hawking has to be cool! Visual journaling is like keeping a diary, but with the use of visual artwork to document day-to-day activities, feelings and ideas. Sometimes a drawing from a visual journal inspires an artist to fully develop the piece into a finished piece of artwork!
5. Showing how you feel; At the foundation of art therapy is the idea that an individual can show a therapist how he or she feels. Rather than verbally explaining the perceived inner workings of the psyche, this art therapy technique enables individuals to use visual elements – movement, gesture shape and action – to convey emotion.
6. Mandala drawing; the Sanskrit word mandala roughly translates to sacred circle. The mandala has been used since prehistoric times for the purpose of transcendence, mindfulness, wellness, and now art therapy. Making your own mandala is self-soothing and relaxing. Over time, as you create your own mandalas, you’ll find your style and technique evolves alongside your emotions. Many mandala coloring books are available as an alternative art therapy idea for adults.
7. Creating together; the marriage of social psychology, group counseling and art therapy, where healing is provoked through the energy generated by a group of individuals, all creating art together.
8. Mask making; this creative therapeutic activity for adults invites people to explore their hidden personas – the characteristics and personality traits that they keep hidden from the world. It’s a great way for individuals to express negative characteristics that they keep hidden – such as greed, anger or jealousy – or other traits that, while not necessarily negative, have bot been appreciated or affirmed – such as creativity or self-confidence.
9. Family sculpture; originally, this art therapy technique was quite literal – patients would physically rearrange their family members into positions that helped them see relationships and situations. Now, however, a cool variation of this technique is to have people create abstract clay representations of their family members that reflect each individual’s personality and familial role, rearranging the models to signify relationships and family dynamics, and even opening the door to therapeutic role play!
10. Magazine photo collage; for those who are put off by pencils, paintbrushes and other more traditional art therapy mediums, collage is an accessible and non-threatening way for people to tell a story, communicate thoughts, feelings or ideas, and create that picture that’s worth 1,000 words.
Art therapy – especially such therapeutic activities as visual journaling, showing how you feel, mask making, mandala drawing, and photo collage – does not necessarily require the facilitation of an art therapist. However, including a trained professional can help better direct your art therapy towards the healing and recovery you are looking for. If you think art therapy might be a good therapeutic avenue to help you reach your mental health and wellness goals, contact us using the brief form below. We’ll schedule you for a free consultation with one of our experienced art therapists!