Art Therapy : A Way to Connect and Transform

This article from Fig Commune requires a free login, but is a great way to learn more about art therapy and our team member Julia Byrne. Here is an excerpt below:

A Marriage Between Art and Psychology

For Julia Byrne, an Art Therapist who holds a Masters Degree in Art Therapy/Art Education from Florida State University, Founding president of the Hong Kong Association of Arts Therapy and practitioner at Life Span Counselling in Hong Kong, it seems art therapy found her.

“Art Therapy is the marriage between art and psychology and is a unique form of psychotherapy, where the healing qualities behind the process of image-making are blended with therapeutic support. In an art therapy session, clients are invited to make visual images (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.) in the presence of a qualified Art Therapist,” explains Julia.

She further explains that the process of art therapy contributes towards the externalization of one’s thoughts and feelings, which may otherwise remain unexpressed. By understanding a client’s artwork and what the image is reflecting back and the insights gained, the therapist connects with the client through dialogue about the content of the artwork and how it may relate to the client’s issue or goal.

“The artwork serves as a mirror for the client to see his or her internal world. At the core of this work is the idea that this process can lead to change,” explains Julia.

Research studies have shown that art therapy heals and helps one learn more about oneself. “I have always had a deep belief that art heals and that the arts are an avenue for personal introspection, knowing others, and empathetic connections with others and world issues,” says Julia.

Julia started as an art teacher years ago when she worked with high risk populations and children with special needs. She discovered that art could have a positive impact on self-esteem and general well-being if the atmosphere in the classroom promoted that. With this, she then shifted her attention from being a teacher to a facilitator.

“I helped children access their strengths not just as artists, but as people. Soon after, I enrolled my students’ artworks in local exhibitions where they got top credits. Their confidence was definitely enhanced, and as I recall, it was a very touching experience. I don’t think I was looking for art therapy, rather art therapy found me,” remembers Julia.