A Picture of Good Health: Art Therapy and the body


Art therapy can be all about being in your body.

It can be a very physical exercise.

It is all about touching the paper, the mediums, seeing and allowing the energy of the way we view the images we’ve created to move through our bodies. Feeling the wax of the crayons on our fingers, feeling the texture of the paper.

Art therapy can also help people with physical illness because they can temporarily forget they are sick as they create art.  Patients in hospital who have lost a sense of autonomy over their bodies can regain some control over their lives through choosing the medium they wish to draw with, the style or subject matter they want to create…

Drawing about health problems can bring in a big sense of control to a situation where you could be feeling helpless or victimised. You can feel like you’re back in the drivers seat again of at least one aspect of your life.

If you are suffering with an illness you could start a somatic drawing journal to create a personal visual language for your pain. Start by drawing your physical symptoms. This can help you understand how things change over the course of days and weeks and what might be triggering them.

If you have a certain pain that you suffer from regularly such as back pain say, think about how it feels and then how you would creatively capture that feeling. What shapes, lines, colours, themes would you use to describe that back pain? Would you use pencils, markers, crayons, collage, paint, ink or pens?

Regularly draw shapes and colours that are connected to the bodily sensations you feel and in particular pay attention to your dreams. Drawing your dreams can give us all sorts of clues to what’s going on with your body and your unconscious.

One client brought in their health art journal with me and we were able to discover that a particular repeating dream predicted he was on the cusp of getting an infection.

The artistic health journal helps clients suffering illness feel a sense of mastery over their lives again.