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What happens in an Art Therapy Session

One of the most commonly asked question that Iam asked is “ What does an Art Therapy session look like?"

While each art therapy session is unique and customised based on the client’s requirements, there is a common format followed for almost all the sessions, which can be put into 5 sections:

Check in: The session starts with a check in activity where the therapist checks how the client is doing or feeling. This helps to put the client at ease and warm up him / her to the process.

Goal setting: The Therapist and the client discuss existing problems, progress or challenges faced since the last session and possible goals for the session.

Art making : Based on the issues discussed, the therapist suggests art based activities / prompts to be done by the client. The client then engages in art making process. The client is free to choose the medium of art making like color pencils, oil pastels or water colors.

This art making process helps the clients to express their thoughts and feelings about the given situation freely and intuitively without the fear of being judged, thus serving as an emotional outlet. Hence the clients are assured not to worry about the beauty or quality of the art being created but to focus on the process and to express what's coming up as their thoughts and emotions.

Art processing: Once the art making is completed, the Therapist supports the the client to reflect on the artwork that is created, by providing reflective prompts. For instance: What thoughts came to mind? Did you experience any confronting emotions through the process? Does the artwork represent a memory or life experience from the past?

So Art processing is not about the Therapist interpreting the art created by the client, but instead it is about the client reflecting and discussing about his / her experience while making the art. The Therapist here supports the client by asking reflective questions to develop better awareness and insight about the situation and work out healthy ways of coping with the situation.

Closing session: The Therapist summarises all the key points discussed and invites the client to share their thoughts on the insights gained during the session. Based on the situation, the client may set goals to achieve before next session.

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