OCD3, Ep7: Finding Release through Art Therapy

OCD3, Ep7: Finding Release through Art Therapy


Jessica, thanks for joining me today and having
us down to your amazing gallery space. Today, we want to learn a little bit about art therapy
and how that might relate to OCD or anxiety disorders in general.
So how I got involved a little bit was through my own art making and realizing that art was
not so much about the product of art, but the process itself. Seeing the joy that people
get out of making art, going through struggles, is really something beautiful, and I wanted
to really follow that. So yeah, there’s a big gap with mental health issues today,
and really, no one should be facing that alone. Can you tell us a little bit more about art
therapy? What is it? How does it work? So it really is kind of accessing parts of
the brain that are tough to bring out in psychotherapy and traditional talk therapy. So for somebody
who doesn’t quite know how to verbalize what they’re feeling, it certainly opens up
the doors to allow that to happen through the creative process. Art therapy is setting
goals and being in a safe space with a trained professional.
It’s really about the process, not the outcome. Absolutely.
So for someone who maybe is not a professional artist, it’s really investing their time in
going through the process and learning from it. I’ve read that art therapy works well
with anxiety disorders. OCD is an anxiety disorder. How does someone suffering from
anxiety benefit from art therapy? The process of art itself and creating in
general, that flow that you kind of reach, that catharsis, that release, is meditative.
So you get into this state of creation with materials that allow you to be focused solely
on creating. And not other thoughts or other worries. Just getting those thoughts out,
getting those images out, that stress out, it’s definitely a cathartic release in that
way. It also acts as a way to cope. You use a controlled material, like a marker, where
you can’t erase it. That mark is already down on the paper or the canvas. You tell
yourself you made a mistake, but it’s about adapting and kind of going with the flow of
it. So if you’re able to do that, in an artistic process, you’re able then to adapt
to real life. An art therapist might ask a client or patient to draw an intrusive thought
and that’s kind of a form of exposing them to that fear or that thought and just kind
of working through that process. But allowing, too, maybe that frustration of those thoughts
to let that come out with the art materials physically. It’s really getting it out and
moving on from it. Assigning no value to it, basically.
Yeah. Assigning no value. Personally, as a sufferer of OCD, I found
a lot of therapy through making music, working in a creative agency, having a sense of community.
Can you tell us a little bit about group art therapy?
Just overall being surrounded by others that you can relate to and also can relate to you
is huge in getting through anything or dealing with intrusive thoughts. You’re just more
prone to open up to the people that understand you. Art is a universal language. Everybody
has that within them somehow. That creative process. And that creativity. You can visit
arttherapy.org to find an art therapist in your area. And also, most importantly, because
everyone’s different, talk to your doctor about what treatment might work for you the
best.

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