Art Therapy for Adults and Children

Growing up, many of us remember coloring with crayons, playing with Play-Doh, or building with brightly colored blocks. We crafted worlds, constructed make-believe scenarios and proudly displayed our creations on fridges, walls, and in frames.

Today, while some of us continue to create art, many of us do not. Life just seems to get in the way. And while art and creating may not be a staple in our lives, what if we told you it could be a catalyst to healing and growing? What if art could again give you that rush of joy? That ability to let go, to embrace emotions, raise self-awareness and cope with what life throws at you? What if we told you that a healing power lies in art therapy?

What is Art Therapy?

Don’t worry, art therapy isn’t just coloring in coloring books (although we enjoy coloring too!)

Art therapy is the use of artistic, creative methods to enrich the lives of individuals, families and communities and treat psychological distress and improve mental health. Art therapy is conducted by a Master’s level art therapist, whose goal is to help individuals and groups gain a deeper understanding of difficult situations and our behaviors and reactions surrounding these situations.

At Affinity, our art therapists will help guide you, either through creating your own art or viewing others’ art.

Through techniques like drawing, painting, collage, and sculpting, you will be encouraged to reflect on what you create, how it was made, and the meaning behind it.

Together you will search for common themes that may be influencing your thoughts and actions. Through exploration like this, an art therapist can help you to better understand your emotions and provide tools to help you cope with future stress.

Will Art Therapy Work for Me or My Child?

Art therapy has been proven to be beneficial for all ages and for a wide array of mental health concerns. Used as an alternative therapy or in conjunction with other psychotherapies, art therapy can be used to help treat such issues as:

  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Behavioral Problems
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
  • Depression
  • Aging
  • PTSD
  • Relationship Issues
  • Eating Disorders
  • Chronic Pain

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and if you have any questions about art therapy and what it may help treat, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Art therapy has helped everyone from war veterans to children with special needs get a better grasp of the world around them. Art therapy has been shown to help reduce pain and stress in cancer patientsreduce anxiety in children, and depression and PTSD in those who have suffered great traumas.

The benefits of expressive arts therapy seem to be boundless.

At its core, art therapy is about making meaning through making art.

Here at Affinity, we take pride in finding out how art therapy can help even more people thrive!

Art Therapy for Children

Expressive arts therapy for children may look like play, but it’s actually a highly beneficial therapy approach. Children do not have the refined verbal skills that adults do. Through art-making, children are actually able to communicate more and better than they can communicate with words alone. Art therapy is especially beneficial for children who may be non-verbal or sensory-based, or who may have suffered from trauma. An art therapist will encourage children to visually express and record their experiences, emotions, and perceptions.

Common art therapy activities for children include:

  • Collage making
  • Tactile activities
  • Fort building
  • Drawing

Art Therapy for Adults

Art therapy for adults, may not look too different from art therapy for children, but is just as beneficial. The goal is to “delve deep,” focusing inward and expressing yourself with creative materials. Art therapy for adults  involves a lot of talk therapy, or psychotherapy, as well. However, unlike expressing yourself with only words, the physical form of art therapy also allows you to “do something” in the moment with your thoughts and feelings – rip them up, turn them over, bury them, or change the image to what you want to have happen.  An art therapist will help you reflect on your art, ask questions, learn about yourself, and develop strategies to work through similar issues that may arise in the future.

Common art therapy activities for adults include:

  • Self-portraits
  • Creative journaling
  • Mandalas
  • Word collages

Do I Have to Be Good at Art for Art Therapy?

Not at all! Remember, art therapy is designed to help you explore your feelings, perceptions and reactions to the world around you, not your artistic techniques. When creating art, our art therapists want you to create art that is an expression of you and your feelings, not necessarily an expression of the outside world. Art therapy is for you and you alone. No artistic flare needed.

Art therapy is about the process, not the final product.

How Do I Get Started With Art Therapy?

We can’t wait to help you in your journey towards empowerment and change. You are more than welcome to read more about our art therapist here and get to know the rest of the team here. To schedule an art therapy session, you can either schedule online or contact us by clicking here. We’ll walk you through the next steps from there.

You’ve made the first step towards healing. We can’t wait to meet you!

Prenatal and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Most people have heard of postpartum depression. It’s an all-too-common condition that new mothers experience. However, it’s not the only challenge facing women around the time of childbirth. Many women experience mood disorders during pregnancy as well as after the child’s birth. Our culture doesn’t always talk about how hard this can be. Therapy is there to support you during this time.

Therapy for New & Expecting Mothers

Many expectant mothers don’t even think about getting therapy during pregnancy. It’s supposed to be a joyous time. Why would you need help for it? The truth is, even if you mostly feel joyous, there are also a lot of other emotions that naturally emerge during pregnancy. You may have many different thoughts, feelings, concerns, and fears. Therapy can provide you with a safe space to discuss all of those things so that you feel more grounded in your pregnancy experience.

Anxiety is one of the most common issues that expectant mothers face.

First-time mothers in particular may have a lot of fears and doubts. You’re bringing a new life into the world. It’s your responsibility to raise that baby for the next eighteen or more years. No matter how excited you are to have this child, that’s a scary prospect. It’s okay to be scared. Therapy can be a place where you can be honest about that fear and figure out how to navigate it effectively so that you can be the kind of parent you dream of being.

It’s also okay if you don’t feel excited about this pregnancy. Women are often shamed in our society if they admit that. As therapists, we understand. Pregnancy can cause many complicated feelings. You may feel like you’re losing your identity as an individual and just going to be stuck being a “mom,” and that can bring up all sorts of mental challenges. It’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to not know if this is what you really want. We will never judge you as you bring forth these feelings to work through in therapy.

What is Postpartum Depression

Although you might have heard the term, you may not know exactly what postpartum depression is. It is a specific type of depression that can happen to women after childbirth.

It’s important to understand that many women experience “baby blues”. Your body and hormones are changing a lot after the birth of your child. Add to that all of the natural anxiety that arises in parenthood, plus the fact that you’re not sleeping normally, and of course you’re going to have moments of low mood.

However, the so-called “baby blues” are temporary. They are interspersed with positive feelings. In contrast, postpartum depression is depression. It is thick, heavy, and doesn’t go away. It starts sometime within the first year after the baby’s birth. Postpartum depression is characterized by:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, feelings of despair, and/or crying a lot
  • Lack of interest in activities and people including no interest in sex or food
  • Feeling like you can’t bond with your baby
  • Low self-esteem particularly as it relates to being a mother
  • Inability to concentrate, focus, or remember things
  • Feeling like you can’t get out of bed, take care of yourself, or meet your baby’s needs

Postpartum depression affects many women. It’s not because of anything that you did wrong. While it’s more likely among people with a history of depression, it can happen to any woman. Getting therapy after pregnancy can help.

In fact, we’re increasingly becoming aware that men can also experience a form of postpartum depression. It typically happens later after the child’s birth than a mother’s form does. Either way, it is a type of depression directly related to the stressors of having a new child.

Pregnancy & Mood Disorders

Postpartum depression is just one type of mood disorder that can impact families after pregnancy. Anxiety is also frequently experienced by expectant and new parents. If you have a history of mood disorders, they may get worse during and after pregnancy. Or the symptoms might change. It’s important to address the challenges right away rather than waiting. Reach out for help today so you can get back to the joy of parenthood instead of staying mired in the hard part.

https://affinitypsych.com/grief-counseling/

Many people struggle with eating disorders. In fact, even people who don’t have a full-blown eating disorder often have challenges with food.

We live in a society that really challenges us when it comes to body image and eating. You may feel like you’re only worthy of love and success if you look a certain way. Even if you come to some acceptance of your body, you may struggle to figure out what’s right for you to eat.

Moreover, you might feel like you’re the only one who faces this challenge. Especially in the age of social media, it can easily look like everyone else is getting life right. You might feel totally alone, however eating disorders are unfortunately very common. You very much are not alone. You can get help. More importantly, you deserve to feel comfortable in your own body!

What is an Eating Disorder?

If you have an eating disorder, then you experience some kind of persistent challenge when it comes to food. Perhaps you eat too much or too little, but it’s less about the quantity of your consumption and more about your emotions and behaviors around eating. If you’re constantly thinking about, worrying about, and obsessing over your food or your weight, then you might be dealing with an eating disorder.

There are different types of eating disorders. If you struggle with anorexia nervosa, then you’re probably terrified of getting fat. You severely restrict your food intake, probably counting calories, and consistently try to eat less and less. No matter how much weight you lose, you feel like you’re still too fat. People tell you that you’re too skinny, but you still feel like you’re not skinny enough. You’re frightened that if you stop being so vigilant about what you eat then you’ll immediately gain weight.

People with anorexia usually end up becoming very thin. In contrast, if you have bulimia nervosa, then you might be thin, but you might also be average weight or overweight. You might go through periods of restricting what you eat but then binge and eat a lot of food all at once. Then you feel bad about eating, so you purge. If you eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar, carb-rich food all in one sitting, especially if you eat it really quickly and barely even notice how it tastes, then you might be living with bulimia.

However, there are other types of eating disorders besides these common two. For example, binge eating is similar to bulimia but without the food restriction or purging. On the opposite end is purging disorder, which is like bulimia without the binge eating. There is also orthorexia which is an obsession with trying to eat healthy, where the focus is on types of food not necessarily calories or weight control.

In other words, there are many different types of eating disorders. You don’t have to fit in a specific box. If you struggle with food, then you face a daily challenge. You deserve to be free of the pain of that challenge.

The Dangers of Eating Disorders

At a minimum, eating disorders make each day a little bit harder. When you spend your time, energy, and mental focus consumed with your food, you don’t have as much of it for other things. You can’t enjoy the wonderful things in life because you’re preoccupied with what is going into your mouth. You have so much to offer the world, but you don’t get to express those great traits, because you can’t stop thinking about your food. You deserve better than that.

Additionally, eating disorders can lead to a wide range of other issues. Your entire body can suffer. If you don’t eat enough, your body can actually start to eat its own tissue in an attempt to survive. You might think it’s great that you’re getting skinnier, but your body isn’t just eating away at its own fat. It’s also eating away at your heart and other organs. This can lead to pain and discomfort at the very least and suffering and death if it continues.

Plus, your brain needs healthy eating to thrive. Eating too much or too little can drastically affect your brain function. As a result, you might not be able to concentrate or perform your best. You are so important and valuable in this world. Therefore, you shouldn’t let an eating disorder cut short your life and potential.

Therapy to Help with an Eating Disorder

We understand that eating disorders develop for a reason. We want to help you figure out the reason that this has affected your life. We don’t have any judgments or preconceived notions about what food you should eat or what amount you should weigh. Instead, we simply believe that you deserve to have the best quality of life possible, and we want to help you work through your eating disorder so that you can have that great life.

You might discover that trying to get past eating disorders brings up all sorts of thoughts and emotions. It can feel very overwhelming. However, you have the strength within you to work through whatever comes up. We can provide you with support and resources so that you can develop your own insight to allow you to manage whatever life might throw your way.

If you are interested in learning more about therapy for eating disorders, then reach out to us for help today.

Mental Health Professionals

Professional therapists obviously know the many benefits of counseling. Ironically, however, they also tend to put off getting their own treatment. If you’re working in the field, then you’re exposed to a whole lot of stressors. Why would you treat yourself with any less care than you do your clients? Let us help you find your center again by working with you.

Mental Health Professionals Need Help, Too

Mental health professionals are the ultimate caregivers. You hold space for so many different people in a given week. You create and maintain the container that gives individuals a safe space for expressing some of the worst things that have ever happened to them. It is magical, important work.

It is also very hard. Working in this field can be draining. You have all of your own countertransference, emotions, and parallel processing going on as you work with each client. Although the relationship is important, you rarely self-disclose. Certainly, you don’t burden your client with the complicated emotions that arise for you during their work. Holding all of that inside is both a beautiful gift you offer your clients and it is a weight you carry within you.

It’s tempting to feel like you have to have it all together. Or to put your feelings in a box. In fact, you might get stuck precisely because you have so much training in professional counseling. You justify and analyze your feelings because of that training, but you may not allow yourself to really feel and work through the deeper emotions.

How Therapy Differs from Supervision

Sometimes as mental health providers we assume that we’re getting our needs taken care of even though we aren’t. One common trap is believing that because you have a supervisor, you don’t need your own therapist. A supervisor helps you work through the emotional and logistical challenges that arise with each of your own clients. That’s very important. However, it simply doesn’t take the place of professional counseling.

Sometimes the issues you’re struggling with are directly related to your clients. Sometimes they have nothing to do with your clients at all. Oftentimes, it’s a murky combination of the two, as you get triggered by clients when things come up related to your own past or present life. Working with a professional therapist allows you to address all of those aspects of yourself in a way that supervision does not.

Don’t Struggle Alone; Get Professional Counseling Today

We understand that it’s not always easy for mental health professionals to seek out their own support. It might feel like you know too much about “what goes on under the hood” to benefit from working with a therapist. However, here you are reading this page, knowing deep inside that it isn’t true. That you, too, want to benefit from that same gift you give your clients every day you go to work.

We can work with you to get past some of the walls that might be up as a direct result of your therapeutic training. We can help you get to the heart of the matter, so that your own beating heart can pump vibrantly once again. Contact us today to learn more about how we can approach therapy to improve your anxiety or depression.

Creative Types

Being creative doesn’t mean you are required to suffer. As a creative person, you are flexible enough to maneuver well in many situations, but you can also feel isolated and lonely. Other people may expect you to be fanciful, but you have a serious side that sees problems before you focus on solving them.

The Trouble with Being Creative

It may be difficult for others to understand you as a creative person because you are different people during different stages of your work. Sometimes, you’re so in the flow that the rest of your life seems to fall away as you concentrate your time and energy on your newest creation. This can lead to relationship difficulties. If you try to change to please others, you’re shortchanging yourself. If you refuse, you may lose a relationship with someone who needs a more involved partner.

The world can be cruel to those who are different, especially if they are too different.

Sometimes, you may feel as if your ideas are ahead of your time and that if you could only push the clock ahead twenty or so years, you would be able to find people who understood your point of view. You question how you managed to arrive there ahead of the pack. Maybe you question whether you are ahead of the pack or deluding yourself about what you perceive so clearly. Perhaps you criticize yourself or your work.

If you see too far or diverge too far from the well-traveled paths, the world might reject you and your work. Being in good company and remembering other people the world vilified before their genius was recognized doesn’t soothe you because it doesn’t close the gap between the possibilities you see and the world most of humanity sees as reality.

The uncomplicated bliss you experience when you’re working on a project that is going well calls to you. It is easy to enjoy work more than other areas of your life. But when its time to take a break, or a project is completed, loneliness sets in if you’ve let your relationships fall away or never created them in the first place.

Appreciating Your Accomplishments and Talents When You’re a Creative Person

Recognizing the magnitude of your accomplishments and strengths can often be difficult if you’re a creative person. You might not even derive much enjoyment from them. Whether you are an artist or a researcher, you are aware of the effort generations put in to build the platform you’re working on, which can make your life’s work seem small in comparison to what countless others created before you built upon their work. You’re focused on what you’re going to do next, not what you’ve already accomplished. This can also make you underestimate your own contributions. If you don’t see your own value, you can feel as if you’re not achieving as much as you want to achieve and become even more self-critical.

Seeing the world you’re creating so clearly can create a disconnect between you and those who don’t yet see the creation. Life can feel lonely, and relationships can feel difficult. How do you be as magnificent as you can be without being so different from others that you end up feeling isolated and alone? Is there a way to allow yourself to be so different without suffering?

The Most Difficult Problems to Solve Can Be the Closest to Home

When we artistically or scientifically create new worlds, we’re focused on solutions to problems. Creatives know that solutions never come from studying the problem—they come from deciding what would be better and finding ways to shift the world towards the solution. When something up close and personal isn’t the way we’d like it to be, almost everyone focuses on the problem. The problem is just too vivid to see solutions, especially when we’re mired in a personal situation that matters to us. Thus, finding that perspective on our own, when it is our life that has the problem, can be difficult.

How Therapy Can Be Part of the Solution

When the problem is slamming us in multiple ways every day, it can seem large and insurmountable. A therapist is an outsider looking in who can see a bigger picture and then help you put the issues in perspective, so they feel more manageable.

At Affinity, we help you use your strengths and a positive, life-affirming focus to address problems. Because we know that with the right perspective, you can find solutions. Let’s get creative together. Read more about how depression treatment can help you with your creativity or contact us today.