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Alchemy Arts

Art Therapy: When You Just Don’t Have The Words

We’ve seen plenty of growing trends over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of people getting creative increasing dramatically during lockdown. 

It is well-known that being creative can help with your mental health and, at a time when one in six people are experiencing mental health problems on a weekly basis according to leading charity Mind, it is important to find new ways of dealing with the struggles and strains of everyday life.

One creative tool being used more and more frequently is art therapy, a form of psychotherapy that helps participants express their thoughts and emotions through art

There are numerous forms of art therapy, from dance and music right through to painting and drawing.

“As someone who has been practicing for a long time, art therapy can be lots of things,” says Olatunde Spence, leading Art Psychotherapist and Trauma Therapist for Akoma Healing H’Arts.

“People often think, ‘I’ll be able to draw a picture and someone will be able to work out what’s going on in my mind’, but I want to reassure people, that is not what art therapy is.

“It’s an invitation for people to use art material, inviting someone into a space to be absorbed in an activity.”

Yet, Art Therapy isn’t just for those struggling with their mental health. 

It could be for anyone feeling overwhelmed, or who just want to gather their emotions and thoughts in an environment free from judgment or stigma.

A collective experience using the medium of arts, there are hopes that art therapy can continue to grow as individuals adapt to the realities of post-pandemic life. 

“When people are so caught up in their anxieties and difficulties, there’s no space to relax,” Spence adds. “It’s a chance to become absorbed in something which you can do for 10, 15, 20 minutes, that takes your mind off whatever it is that you’re actually worried about. 

“The other part of art therapy is looking at what that image might be saying to you. We’re very much focused on words, but sometimes it’s very difficult to do that. 

“A picture paints a thousand words, and to me that’s what art therapy can be about.”

Olatunde Spence was speaking to Alchemy Arts as part of Colours of COVID. Click HERE to watch all six episodes.

Written by Nicola Broadbent

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