Art Therapy Techniques

Art therapy involves very practical art therapy techniques that encourage creative expression in order to foster healing and well-being.

Here is one simple technique that can be used for both personal self-reflection and to help a client get in touch with the deeper self.

Place an object in the palm of your hand. A good example to use is a seashell.

With the shell resting on the palm of your hand, close your eyes and start by getting a sense of the object in your hands without moving your hands or fingers.

Simply become aware of it as much as you can. First, notice its weight. Then the sensation that it brings to your hands and to your skin.

Now, with your eyes still closed, touch and explore the object with your fingers and with both hands.

It is important that this exploration happens in a gentle and respectful way. Feel its roughness or smoothness; its solidness or softness; its warmth or cold. Now, press it against other parts of your body and be aware of how it feels. For instance, press it against your lips, your cheeks, your forehead and other parts of your body.

Now, open your eyes. Observe the object from different angles. Study it. Be aware of every detail, every colour, every shade … all its individual parts.

Now, smell it. If possible, taste it. Hold it against your ears and listen.

Now, let’s take this even further.

Place the shell on your lap and talk to it. Yes, bear with me for a moment.

Although it’s an inanimate object, the seashell has a history. It has come into being through a creative process we barely understand. It was once the home of the little sea animal that made it and as such, the shell has a past and a story to tell.

So, using your imagination, ask the shell about its significance; its past, its journey and its future. Listen while it unravels its mystery to you. Your object has deep wisdom and understanding about you. With an open mind, enquire about it and listen carefully to what it might reveal to you.

Now, finally, take some paint and start drawing or painting this object.

Take your time and let the pencils, crayons or brushes do the work. Don’t rush. Enjoy the experience. Try not to interpret or analyse what you do, as the unconscious flows more freely when we use less cognitive effort. Once you have finished, have a look at your image and again, initiate a conversation with it. What is it revealing to you about your life and yourself? What does it look like? Does that remind you of something?

Art Therapy Techniques

This kind of art therapy technique is a good start to get in touch with the deeper self, relaxing the outer noises and becoming aware of what truly matters. It encourages a creative expression that can release our innermost thoughts, feelings and motivations. In this process of released expression, we get to reflect on those things that would otherwise remain concealed from us.

Reflection often leads to self-revelation and enlightenment. And a simple art therapy technique can assist in this enriching journey.

I invite you to take a look at our art therapy course overview page and check out see all that we offer at the College of Educational and Clinical Art Therapy.

If you have any questions, have a look at our FAQs page. Alternatively, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact form. You may also want to follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop.

Robert Gray, CECAT
Robert Gray
Director and Senior Lecturer at CECAT
Registered Art Therapist and Psychologist
MA A. Th., AThR; B. Soc. Sc. (Psych.) (Hons.), MAPS.; BA. Theol. (Hons), MA Theol.

A highly regarded art therapy lecturer from Germany, Robert Gray has become a much sought-after art therapy lecturer and practising art therapist in Australia. His unique approach spanning psychodynamic, humanistic, spiritual and cognitive behavioural frameworks has distinguished him as a thought leader who is frequently invited to present at conferences in Australia and abroad.

Trained overseas and multilingual, German-born Robert shares the benefits of his international affiliations and access to cutting-edge research published in various languages with his students and readers. Robert is a professional member of the Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS).