Using Art Therapy to enhance your Art Practice by Art Therapist Leah Guzman
In this special Article, Artist & Art Therapist, Leah Guzman. She is also the founder of Creative Soul Society.
Leah helps artists and creators build their self-confidence, manage and regulate their emotions and, deal with things that are happening in their life, where they need someone to hold space for them. She is also the author of a book, ‘Essential Art Therapy Exercises’. In this article, she shares what art therapy is and gives some tips of how you can incorporate it into your life.
SO, what is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that deals with managing people’s emotions, helping people express themselves through art.
It’s a little bit of counselling psychology and using art to express those feelings. Sometimes I get the question is, do I analyze people’s arts? No, that’s not my job. My job is to help people understand their own art and understand what the symbolism, the meaning of how, um, you know, what’s showing up in their lives and how they’re being influenced.
So, you know, there are times in your life where you would need to see someone to help you, so if you are feeling stuck somewhere, right? For example, if you you’re dealing with a certain kind of trauma of a loss of a loved one or divorce, some sort of life transition, or you’re just feeling really stuck because you have so much anxiety, depression, or some sort of fear and you can’t seem to get past those emotions to, show up as your best self. So what happens is if you go seek support from an art therapist, you’re able to have a relationship with them where they can help you with that life, whatever’s happening in your life, such as showing you like certain patterns that have made you get stuck.
Sometimes when we’re in our lives, we’d might not be able to see, you know, why things keep showing up for us. And so the therapist is mostly to hold space for you to help you process that emotion and there are some times where you can do things on your own, just because art in itself is therapeutic.
You know, just creating forty-five minutes of art can reduce cortisol levels?
Those are that stress hormone. So just creating art is therapeutic! But when, when you think about our behaviours and our thoughts- those types of things we get stuck in our head and we can’t really see it for ourselves of those patterns that we have.
So that’s where it’s cool to be able to self-reflect on your art and it’s also cool to have someone there to help and support you see those patterns. So most of the creatives that I offer support to get stuck with their self-worth of, you know, their confidence to being able to show up and share their heart with the world whether that’s starting a business or just getting in touch with themselves.
Self-development and just looking at what’s my life purpose and who am I? And what’s the best direction to go looking for clarity and so art can do that for you, or it can show you like the next best step and then another thing that a lot of the creatives that I work with they have issues with money.
Taking steps towards understanding Self Worth!
Self-worth of how to price your art and understanding your own patterns with money and your own relationship with money, or getting stuck with con consistent creative flow. How to nurture that relationship with them, your art practice! It’s so important to be consistent with their art practice.
But there are times when we kind of lose ourselves and it’s totally normal, and I help creatives manage their emotions, being able to regulate and be stable and feel good about themselves. So I know this from I say I work with, with creatives with this, but I know from my own personal experience I’ve been an artist in my life and I’ve had my own ebbs and flows where I actually needed to find support as well.
So I went and saw on our therapist when a time when my anxiety was super high and I was having bouts of depression. It was when my kids were really, really little and I was practicing art therapy and there wasn’t giving any time to myself. You know, it wasn’t creating art. I would wake up at three o’clock in the morning, they crying and go hide in the bathroom, just write in my journal and it wasn’t sure why this was happening when I had everything that I needed and all the love and support at home. But the thing was is that I wasn’t giving to myself. So that time, it helped me when I saw an art therapist, because they showed me that I needed to have some boundaries and start being a people pleaser.
They showed me my patterns that I needed to make some changes and really put some boundaries up and create a structure so that I can create and be productive.
So part of the tips that I want to show you for today is just or to talk to you about is just honour where you’re at, honour whatever you’re feeling, because there’s so much life experience and the dark side. That’s one of the beautiful things about being human is that we get to have this wide range of emotions. We get to go to the dark night of our souls to, you know, feel all these different feelings, whether it’s anger, depression, anxiety, uh, you know, these life experiences that we have, you know, uh, like make our life rich, even though it’s hard.
But if you could just honour whatever it is that you’re feeling so that you don’t get stuck because what happens if you don’t honor those feelings, they will get stuck. That energy will get stuck within you and it’ll either make you feel it physically or could turn into disease or lead to other problems.
So that’s why emotion is emotion. Move that emotion, right? So you want to move it and you need to release it. And that’s, what’s so beautiful about the art is that you can, you know, use it as a cathartic experience. Always be checking in use your journal to write these thoughts!
Draw it! Whatever that emotion is, and it doesn’t have to be anything that you can like share on Instagram or post about it, or it just for you. I have a journal myself that, I mean, I have plenty of just ugly art, but just because it’s just an expression, it’s just like this! Thing that I need to get out for that moment.
I don’t want to hold it in so there’s many different ways that you can go about it, whether you want to journal or just go for a run. But art is a great way to always check in and see how you’re feeling and, and write it out because you know, art is an extension of yourself, everything, in life is connected.
So if we do get stuck somewhere, if we don’t express that emotion, it’s going to show up in other areas. Right? So for upleveling, we have to really look at like all areas of our life. So like how we’re doing. Financially how we’re doing with our family relationships, how are we doing with our own self care or our business or, um, our projects and goals.All of those are interconnected. So when we can really start to focus on, um, the energy for each one of those and how are we feeling about them? That’s where we can start to up-level and start manifesting those things that we want.
What kind of relations are showing up for me?
Everything is like a mirror! And if anything is being triggered within myself or my clients. That shadow self, is that unconscious part of ourselves that, that does need healing?
If you’re being triggered by anything take it as an opportunity to dive deeper and say ‘What is it within this person?’ When I’m around them that I feel something right. That feels maybe it’s uncomfortable. This gives you that opportunity to say, Hmm, what is it about myself?
Balancing the positives to negatives!
You know, is it they jealousy or anger or rage or disappointment or not good enough. If you’re feeling any of those things, then that’s that part of you that, that might need healing. And everything goes back to when you’re a younger, right? From those life experiences that we’ve had. And we never know what’s going to stick. They say that one ugly thing that was said to you, maybe someone called you stupid. That one thing that if that stuck to you, if you really started to believe it, and you thought that was your truth. Then you feel ‘Oh man, I must be really stupid’ because I keep doing this or I’ve done that before. It’ll take 14 positive compliments to unstuck that negative.
So it’s 14 positive things that would change that belief so one negative can be really harsh. So just going back to, you know, what our thoughts are, what’s showing up for your life and what might need to be healed. Right. Because a lot of times when we need our own healing, it could be projected onto other people where we could, um, Start to judge people or project that onto other people.
And we might not even be conscious of it, but if it’s a pattern that keeps coming up, there’s a lesson. There there’s something that needs, there’s some juiciness that needs to be uncovered. Um, yeah, so that’s what I love about art. And especially during the journaling is because, you know, it’s definitely a self care.
I do Large pieces of small pieces, and I do sell my art, but I just feel like it’s an important practice to be consistent, even when you lose it.
Remember to recommit, instead of beating yourself about it! We all go through highs and lows. We get busy and things like that, but just recommit, you know, don’t beat yourself up. Um, just cause that, you know, that creative flow is going to make it feel really, really, really. Can you share art to gain clarity? Right? Um, that’s one beautiful thing that I love in my practice is that I really believe that art is your miracle anytime they want to manifest anything in my life, whether it’s like calling in a new client or, um, even my new kitchen, I will always draw it out. You know, it’s like, I, I draw out who is my, um, who we want, who do I want to call in? Like, who do I want. With, um, what energy do I want to feel? And I actually create that.
Manifesting a healthy life and art practice though journaling
I create that in my journal, you know, I journal about it and for my dreams and my clients dreams of just really started envisioning that life. Like what your ideal day is like, what does it feel like when you wake up in the morning? Right? What do you want to do? Can you want to be with, you know, how do you want to spend your time?
You didn’t really like, think about that about like, what does that look like for you and journal about it? Like, what’s that abundant life that you deserve that you’re totally worthy of. And, and make art about it. And that’s, what’s going to show up for you, right? Because energetically, as you create art about it, you’re going to feel good, right.
Going to be bringing that into your world. So, you know, you can use art to release. That’s that healing, it’s that self care it’s nurturing your soul. And it’s also going back to manifesting because when you are in a good space, when you are in that alignment, You are going to be able to easily manifest your desires.
Come. Really easily when you’re in that, you know, totally like aligned space when you’re in that flow. So that’s why we don’t want to beat ourselves up, you know, just have self-compassion um, with those negative emotions with, um, when times get tough, you know, when we are experiencing anxiety, um, or doubt or things like that, but just come back, just come back to yourself of, um, knowing of your worth and knowing that you’ve.
Connecting with your art!
Another thing about having art as your Oracle and being able to create art and then looking back and saying, you know, what message does this have for me? You know, write about that. What’s showing up. And, um, why is this important? You know, what’s its message. Because all art has a message, you know, it’s an extension it’s part of, um, you know, connecting with source energy.
Um, and then coming back to it. You know, what, what do you want me to know? You know, what’s the information here. I always learned something about myself when I’m creating. I’m like, ah, that’s my next best step. Right. Even when I, like I was talking about like calling my clients and they creating art about that, it’s like, oh, okay, well maybe I should contact, um, this or go the certain direction because of that. And then magical things will happen. Huh? Okay. So I hope I was able to kind of give you an overview of my practice of my art or therapy and how I help, um, creatives with their emotions. Being able to, you know, do that nurturing and self care. So I’m hoping that you’ll be able to take some nuggets out of that where, you know, do some journaling for yourself.
Remember if you feel overwhelmed or you are stuck, getting help is not a weakness! Find someone that you feel really comfortable with because I always think that like therapy is kind of like dating – to find someone that you resonate with!
Where can you find Leah and her art therapy sessions?