The theoretical and practical world of Art Therapy is eclectic, drawing from the fields of philosophy, psychology and the Arts.   Art Therapy is broadly used in education, business, social sciences and religious/spiritual practices.  Although the practice of art therapy began on psychiatric wards it is now a recognized complementary and alternative mental health practice.  Wherever there are people there is capacity for artistic expression and meaning.  

Artmaking and art therapy provide healing and growth experiences, and stimulate creativity.  Creating art images is a safe and natural way of communicating feelings and experiences.  People are able to see themselves more clearly, gain different perspectives, and unblock feelings and issues that may otherwise be difficult to bring to the conscious.  We have an energy language in our body that informs us both literally and symbolically.  Immune system neuropeptides transform thoughts into matter, storing emotions and memories in body tissues.  These stored negative experiences, relationship issues and belief systems generate negative energy that affects our health.  The rational and censoring left brain can keep us from this information.  Through meditative aspects inherent in the art therapy process, we tap into the right brain, connecting to symbols, images and perceptions that speak to us from the unconscious. These images may both surprise and inform us.  The act of externalizing images releases repressed memories, stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system to calm us, and the images become our teacher.  By connecting our conscious with our unconscious we gain a more congruent sense of self, improving mind, body and spirit.        

The lady who painted this image had severe depression for years.  Through her art she discovered her anger, that it was so great her head was off.  Her next painting demonstrated the intensity of anger.  Images that are repeated, such as the spirals in her head, can signify the number of events where she was traumatized.   Although the artmaking is a magical and organic experience, it is in the processing of the images that awareness and problem-solving take place.  Paradoxically, we need to go into the pain in order to work through it.  Artmaking lets us face our fears in a relatively safe way, transforming them into power.


"Your mind is not in your brain but in every cell in your body" Depak Chopra


People generally stop drawing/painting around the age of 10, often because they had been told or believed their artmaking inferior.  In art therapy no artistic skills are required.  The important thing is to stop thinking and let your body and intuition pick out art materials that appeal to you, and to just start making art.  Do not think!  Thinking putting us in our left brain, our censor. There are no rules about artmaking and anything you do is fine.

You will be surprised how images bring elements of self-awareness and discovery, improving your relationship with yourself.  The creative process itself is healing.  It has a way of energizing, nurturing, teaching, and mirroring our true selves.  It is soothing and facilitates expression of thoughts and feelings not expressible in words.  It goes beyond pain and anguish and taps into our inner spirit.


Art Therapy is generally considered to be a marriage of artmaking with talk therapy, although artmaking itself is healing.  The session often begins with relaxation techniques and/or guided imagery, and is accompanied by music or movement.  As people become attuned to and listen to their inner Self, they spontaneously paint from the unconscious.

The second part of the session involves the processing of art images.  Marilyn uses Person-Centred and Phenomenological/Gestalt approaches in Art Therapy.  Each person is considered to be unique, with a creative potential towards healing.  The art image is considered a phenomenon with its own structure and voice.  Through intention and focus on the image it takes on meaning and connects the artmaker to an inner experinece. People are often surprised at "what comes up" through their art making.   Life transitions are explored as well as various issues such as grief and loss, relationships, body image, identity, creativity blocks, and past abuse and trauma. Body reactions occur as emotions are experienced and released. We begin to see the connection between mind, body, emotions and disease. Many use art therapy as an adjunct to healing, especially from illness resulting from chronic stress.