shallow focus photo of paint brushes

Art Therapy – Practicing Mindfulness Through Art

If someone asked me what my favorite aspect of my job is at WC SAFE, I would have to say co-facilitating our art therapy group. My background is in art – I grew up loving art class in school, spending hours on the carpet at home drawing and coloring with my 100 box of crayons. My mother always encouraged me to create and I found art to always be a focal point in my life. Being a survivor of trauma, I unknowingly used it as a tool in my own healing journey. I would lose myself in art books and spending long hours at the surrounding art museums.  When it came time for me to decide what degree to pursue in college that was easy – Art History. Okay. So yes, I am not the curator I had hoped to be after I graduated from college. However, I discovered another passion and way for me to use some aspects of my degree. Art Therapy. 

Over the past 3 years we have done several different projects, here are some of our favorites:

  • Vision Board (hopes, dreams, ideas, things that represent you)
  • Stress away – putty (made with lavender essential oils to promote relaxation)
  • Calming jars (the jars are filled with glitter -when shaken and placed on a table -watching the glitter slowly fall is meant to reduce anxiety and stress)
  • Fabric portraits (fabric cut into shapes and arranged to create an image)
  • Button artwork (Buttons arranged to create a 3D image)
  • Tassel bead necklaces
  • Painting pots for our WC SAFE Grow and Glow Garden
  • Kintsugi – the art of breaking pots and repairing them 

So, you might ask, what is Art Therapy? 

Art Therapy – A form of expression that uses the creative process of making art to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

Art therapy can include a wide range of art materials and different processes. In our group we focus more on the process then necessarily completion. We allow clients to pick up where they left off on previous projects, depending on how they are inspired during the group session. 

Some of the benefits of Art Therapy include:

  • Alleviating stress
  • Reducing depression
  • Managing anxiety
  • Improving communication skills
  • Building self-esteem
  • Positive distraction
  • Encouraging creative exploration
  • Improving self-management

Art Therapy is a great alternative to one on one counseling or as an additional tool. Clients who attend art therapy group often attend one on one counseling and it seems to provide a good balance. My favorite part of our group is the bonds our clients form with one another. We have had a dedicated group of clients coming to group now for about 2 years. They are always so happy to be spending time together: listening to music, talking about life and creating art. It’s healing for the soul! If you are a survivor and interested in learning more about our Art Therapy group, please call: 313-964-9701. 

About Katie Smith

Katie Smith, Director of Communications has worked for WC SAFE for over nine years. She wears several different hats for the organization including managing marketing, social media, interns/volunteers, operations and events. Her favorite role is helping to co-facilitate the art therapy program. In her free time, she loves attending Pure Barre classes, gardening, reading, and long bike rides.