Every time I tell someone what I do, artists, parents, teachers, neighbors – they all want to understand how art can be therapy, and how play can be therapy… and why would they not simply do this for themselves? Great question! And the answer is because sometimes we need a guide. This doesn’t mean you can never play with your own child and have it be therapeutic, in fact almost anytime you play with your child, fully engaged in their world, not distracted by phones and, well, life, you are providing just such an opportunity. Of course, there is a lot to know. There are skills that we are taught as play therapists that won’t always be productive in the home setting. The rules are different. Your child is in charge of their hour with me. Your child can’t always be in charge at home. And Art Therapy is similar! Of course you can make art at home, for yourself, your child. Please do! Any chance you can get! AND, as an art therapist I can help guide you through various mediums to use to enhance or balance certain emotions, to help you learn to drop into certain feelings through your art, without becoming flooded by past trauma. We can learn to speak the language of many different brains by using art and play in therapy. It is a time and a place where you can come and be fully accepted, without needing to rely on words to explain your life. This is especially useful with kids, of course, but you’d be surprised just how hard it is for most adults to talk about very personal issues. Trust me. I’m one of them! I found that for myself, when I went to talk based therapy, I just routinely turned the session back on the other person, defiantly thinking to myself, “let’s see what you can get out of me. NOTHING! I’m going to sit here and completely avoid all inquiries by redirecting the conversation.” Some talk therapists are amazing at twisting this right back onto the client, but I never met them when I was younger. And the worst part of all? I was paying to hear all about my therapist’s new boyfriend. What is that? That’s a friend. That’s a coworker. That’s a casual conversation. Art and play help by providing a third object between the client and the therapist, an object that can be talked about as the “other.” This third party can hold all the insecurities of the client, the anger, the dreams, the disappointments, the joy, without the client feeling embarrassed or hijacked by those feelings. The internal world can be externalized, giving a memory or a struggle more space, shifting our perspective from something inside that feels flawed to something separate and better able to be managed, looked at, curiously observed. We all have the answers inside us already, we really do, but traversing through the dark and unknown alleys, through the rivers of doubt where the self-critic lives, through memories we might not have known as our own, we need allies; we need help, because going solo can make the trek even more daunting. Having assistance along the way makes us stronger, and more capable of finding a way through what can sometimes feel like a senseless maze.