Art Therapy and Coaching

Using Art Therapy Techniques in Life Coaching

Of course, you as the life coach have your own experience and areas of expertise to use to inform you coaching qualifications and training, but is this enough? If you have no counselling background or limited psychology knowledge, can you really delve into these disparate areas of human emotion and interaction? The answer is yes, you can, and you can know when you need to involve or suggest other agencies to provide additional support. The way you do this is through utilising the techniques of art therapy.  

Life coaches tailor their approach to suit the individual needs of each client but taking a holistic approach to clients may require new ways of working that have not previously been part of your tool kit or approach. Integrating art therapy techniques into your approach can have a huge positive impact on your work. It is important to note, however, that using these techniques does not qualify you as an art therapist, and if the exercises you use with clients expose issues that are outside of your skills and qualifications, you should still make referrals to qualified individuals as you would previously.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that utilises the expressive and creative arts as modes of communication and expression. Rather than art being a diagnostic tool, in this context it is a medium through which complex emotional, mental and physical issues can be addressed.

Those that work within art therapy use the techniques to support a wide range of clients including children, young adults, and the elderly. It can be successful in supporting individuals with complex and life limiting conditions, mental health conditions, those that have suffered traumas, and those with neurological conditions.

One of the many benefits of art therapy is that it is a nonverbal form of communication. Those undertaking art therapy can express themselves through painting, photography, model making, collage, dance, music, and movement. It enables individuals to order their thoughts and emotions, make sense of their past, and to gain insight into their own personalities. The role of the art therapist is to guide and encourage expression and aid the individual in understanding the art they have created. The focus is on the process, rather than on the finished piece.

Using Art Therapy Techniques

While art therapy is a specific discipline, the techniques can be used just as effectively in other disciplines. If you have a client that knows they want to make a change, but does not know why, how, or what that change is, then applying art therapy techniques can help them to discover all of this and much more. It is important to note that none of the techniques require you or the client to be great or even competent artists.

It enables clients to express things that they are unable to put into words, to order their thoughts and emotions, and to reflect on their past and present – in short to make sense of their world and their place within it. By doing this, you as the life coach are able to develop strategies that are based on what is actually happening in the client’s life, rather than on their previous compartmentalised view of their needs.

Incorporating art therapy techniques into your practice

There are many ways in which you can incorporate art therapy techniques into your practice once you are comfortable with the basic premise behind the techniques. Some ways in which you can achieve positive results include encouraging clients to:

·         Develop collages to express their current life state

·         Doodle to encourage thought processes and creativity

·         Choose / listen to music that reflects their current emotional state

·         Use colour to express thoughts and emotions

·         Draw their desired outcomes

·         Draw the barriers to those outcomes

·         Use different mediums to express how they see themselves / how they think others see them.

This list is only a small sample of simple activities that can make a huge difference, and which can be revisited to show progress and highlight continuing barriers to that progress. You can learn more about the benefits of incorporating art therapy techniques into your life coaching work here. For courses that provide everything you need to know to get started and offer you membership / accreditation with the ACA visit our courses section today.

Is Life Coaching for You?

Are you considering life coaching as the next step in your career? Read on to learn more about becoming a life coach. Are you already a life coach? Are you looking for a way to develop your business and help raise standards across the coaching sector? Visit the accreditation page to see how accreditation could help you.