“And when there is something so mindful and free about committing your emotions and imagination to imagery, how could I not continue?”
My first experience with art therapy happened when I was eighteen years old. I have always had a desire to express myself through art, but my method of choice had been writing and music. And even though I enjoyed drawing and painting in my childhood, as I grew older and more insecure, I could never bring myself to make visual art because it could never be good enough.
But at eighteen years old, having reached a new bottom in my mental health, I became involved in a therapy group of other mentally ill young people organized by a therapist. I was desperate, I was willing to listen to anybody, and when they invited me to pick up some arts and crafts, I asked for the glue stick.
Despite my insecurity, and in defiance of my low self-worth, I discovered that my problems had never been because I was uniquely unskilled or broken. Through the lens of art, both mine and that of my fellow co-patients, I was able to connect with others who shared in my struggles in ways that just hearing their words might never have done.
My art was not worse or better than that of the people sitting next to me. None of us had experience or skill, but from the very beginning, all of us were able to express things to the others and to ourselves that we might never have been brave enough to say out loud. We were not untalented, or unworthy of the boundless self-expression that art can offer, we were just out of practice.
Even after my therapy group disbanded as we all left for college or work, I found myself drawn to the visual arts in a way that I wasn’t brave enough to do prior to my experiences. I still had anxieties when I pick up a paintbrush or a glue stick that it somehow won’t be good enough, but art therapy gave me the opportunity to start practicing. And when there is something so mindful and free about committing your emotions and imagination to imagery, how could I not continue?
If you are passionate about art in any of its forms, and you are considering undergoing art therapy, I could not give any higher recommendation. You will have the opportunity to learn that you have more to offer and say than you could have ever anticipated.
Be sure to read our previous article here.
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Sunny Ebsary is a writer and singer-songwriter from Tampa, FL. When he’s not sing-songwriting or just regular writing, he’s probably drinking water with a lot of ice, having a staring contest with his cat, or giving people great ideas. You can listen to Sunny’s music here.