Does Art Therapy work with the unconscious?

Yes, this is how I work with my Art Therapy method, and I know it sounds a bit abstract and difficult to understand but I will explain it to you super easy.

If you suddenly came into my art therapy workshop and I told you, okay, come on “sit down and tell me about your fears, what are you afraid of?” 

If I did that, what would happen? Well, it would happen that your answer would be an automatic response, a completely rational response taken out of your head as a dictation that you have prepared for yourself, a response from your self-defense so you don’t feel that you are exposing yourself to me or you wouldn’t know what to answer me because you had never asked that to yourself before or because you really wouldn’t be able to verbalize your fears or directly it wouldn’t come out to you to talk at length there about that very intimate part of you.

However, what if instead of doing this, instead of asking you that question whose answer is going to be so opposite to the true emotion, I suggested that you make a drawing, that you use your body with a certain position, that you put on in the shoes of a character or for you to model a figure with clay … and I didn’t tell you why, I simply asked you to enjoy it and not to think, although I would know that I am doing it to be able to work with your fears.

So what would happen? It would happen that after looking at your work of art or after collecting the feelings of what you have just experienced and sharing it with me, and after a guide from me you would end up speaking and knowing more about your fears than any rational response could have allowed you to.


And you would also do it without suffering, without having a bad time, without having to protect yourself because you would be talking about your work of art, not your fear. Although in the end it would happen that with my questions you would end up realizing that what you are really talking about is your own fears without even realizing it, so you would not have had time to judge your answers, to stop your words or protect you from being exposed.

This happens because when we use art to work on self-knowledge, what is happening is that while you are there entertaining creating or enjoying without thinking about why you are doing it … your unconscious starts thinking “Yes! This is my chance, now that he/she’s entertaining… it’s my turn” and then it happens that that inner voice that you always shut up begins to speak for you without you even noticing. “Now you are going to listen to me, when you finish what you are doing you will find what I’ve prepared for you, you will find yourself.”

It is the unconscious that speaks for us when we do art therapy, that inner voice that finds the hole through which to sneak in to help you, so that you can see yourself.

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