We believe a healthier society to be one in which the creative working through of emotional pain, within a safe and supportive arena, is not merely the property of a few psychologically-minded people, or restricted to the confines of the art gallery or theatre. It should be possible for many more people to process their feelings well, rather than simply managing them via neurotic or destructive means.
The arts psychotherapy and therapy courses are concerned with the therapeutic application of the arts and the creative imagination for a more fulfilling life, rather than purely for remedial use, or simply for addressing a particular problem. Our courses include therapeutic communication through seven art forms: Art, Drama/Puppetry, Sculpture/Clay, Poetry, Sandplay, Music and Bodywork/Movement.
The Seven Art Forms for therapeutic conversation
Art explores emotional landscape and view, and aspects of a person’s ‘seen world’ in terms of inner and outer world reality. The inter-relationships of size, shape, line, space, texture, shade, tone, colour, distance in a painting can reveal the reality of the self. The art image supports people to linger in the exploration of themselves and inner world when, without it, they may run away from or avoid both.
Offers profound reflection on who we are and the roles we play. These art forms are also centrally concerned with how people change people, for better or worse, and the sort of connections they make with each other, e.g. superficial, conflictual, brutal, deadened or deeply enriching. Drama and puppetry can also offer vital insights into ‘situation’: how past situations are still colouring those in the present. Working with puppets is ideal for circumventing a reluctance to speak about feelings.
Sculpture offers a person the power to speak through touch. Its power lies more in the emotional resonance of substance. Sculpture invites a sensual engagement with the world. Clay expresses qualities and forms of feeling, directly, plainly, free of the clutter of any associations of the everyday.
Literal words can misrepresent, underplay, hide rather than reveal and frequently offering only approximations to any recalled experience. In poetry as a multi-sensorial form, ‘amplifies the music of what happens’ (Seamus Heaney). ‘A poetic basis of mind’ (Hillman) can lead to a far more profound experience of life.
Clients choose from a whole world of miniature people, animals and buildings and arrange them in the controlled space of the ‘theatre of the sandbox’. This theatre then offers a profound overview of important life issues. Once feelings are organised and externalised in sandplay, they can be contemplated from a distance, and then assimilated.
The dynamic forms in music are recognisable as vital forms of felt life: the rises and falls, the surges and floodings, the tensions and intensities, the changes in tempo, the dissonances, harmonies and resolutions. We know these forms intimately in our emotional experiencing. Music can convey the full qualitative and energetic aspects of an important relationship, atmosphere crucial event, or ongoing situation.
Forms encapture the complex inter-relations between time, weight, space, flow. We know these forms intimately in our emotional experiencing, so much so that both movement and still pose can provoke all manner of resonance. It is also possible to work with what the body is already communicating symbolically, whether through posture, gesture and gait, or through illness and injury. Movement is integral to the very process of change.