What is art therapy?
Nona Orbach, 2016
Artist, art therapist, educator, supervisor
“It is not a coincidence that I have listed my different professional identities up here. Being an art therapist, it is necessary to use them all and more; I need to activate my artistic knowledge of life in the studio, mirrored by different mediums through my actions, carried out by my hands. I use my body knowledge to grasp the actions done with the medium by my clients. I wish to utilize my understanding of materials and perhaps educate a client about a technical [therapeutic] aspect in their work. I also need to be my own attuned psychological supervisor and choose, for example, when and how much to move around the studio. An art therapist makes many unplanned physical actions in each session, synchronizing them all with deep psychological knowledge. This also indicates that all actions, tools, materials and settings are not only technical means, they also possess various rich disciplines of knowledge and implications interweaved within. I hope that all this becomes a related organic embroidery attuned to a client in a specific session.
I perceive our profession as primarily rooted in the history of humankind, ever since people painted animals on cave walls. Apparently, those creations were an integral part of a culture and rituals in the quest after the meaning of life. It was very unlikely mere entertainment or beautiful stuff in a “cave gallery.” If you ever had a chance to observe such ancient images and lines in a dark cave, you must have felt that it was genuine and crucial to the creator and the community, as it holds within a profound resonance and spirit that appeal to us, despite not knowing what the actual context was.
Our trade can correspondingly be compared to the alchemist’s quest for knowledge by heating powders and liquids in a vessel on a fire, hoping to create gold. Alchemy observes life as one organic existence where matter resembles spirit and vice versa. Alchemist’s search for gold, but more than that, they pursue wisdom and the meaning of life through mixing powders, liquids, leaves and beetle wings. Metaphorically, isn’t this what we do?….”
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Art work by 4.5 years old boy: I am painting a slide for grandpa.