Okay, its art therapy… paint, brushes, paper, pencils, you get the idea, so it must be for kids, right? Well actually, yes and no!
Yes, it is great for kids and still a central method of how they communicate, but can I share with you that a large majority of my clients are male, the adult kind, mostly reluctant, embarrassed and professing they cannot draw, and they are only here because their partner, wife, mother said they should. My response, ‘great, I am an accomplished stick figure artist myself, and I know how awkward you must feel right now, but what a courageous effort to be here’.
While it is often harder for men to access helping therapies, due to the ‘bravado’ they feel the need to uphold, the stress of anxiety, depression and overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt or anger are no less crippling for men than women, yet socially our culture still has a lingering stigma associated around men and mental health issues, the prospect of ‘opening up’, and sharing feelings with a therapist often seems to big a hurdle for most men to jump.
So, having stated the some of the hurdles, why would men engage in art therapy? Well what I have observed is that art therapy offers an advantage over classic “talk therapy” which is often well outside the comfort zone of most men.
Supporting men to be productive by way of the art process to approach life’s challenges or experiences is commonly viewed as less threatening. I frequently witness male clients say they don’t ‘do’ art, and then go on to paint themselves in a boat lost at sea, or draw the storm inside their head, or shape a piece of clay to express a feeling or emotion, this is generally when insights come about, dialoguing with the client about the process, for example asking, ‘when did you first notice you were lost at sea’, ‘is there anyone else with you in the boat’, ‘can you see any land on the horizon’, ‘is the boat seaworthy’?
This externalisation makes it easier, not just for men, but all clients to think differently about their situations, again for example, it may be that the client says something like, ‘I guess if I had a compass I could find my way back’, what does the client need, in his reality, to feel like he can navigate through life?
I see enormous promise art therapy has for bypassing the reserve many male clients have regarding therapy, it’s capacity to communicate and connect in nonverbal ways allows for a client to enter a therapeutic dialogue at their own pace, ensuring a greater connection to the process, awareness and insight gained from the therapy.
Please feel free to schedule a complimentary 15min appointment or phone chat with the lovely staff at Fresh Holistic Health reception (07) 5445 2928, to discuss how this therapy may benefit you or a loved one, or alternatively email me here
For more testimonials of how Art Therapy has assisted others head over to Lisa’s website where Ralph, a Sunshine Coast paramedic has kindly shared his experience of art therapy. http://www.lisamoorearttherapy.com.au/men-s-mental-health