by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
Sensorimotor art therapy integrates traditional art therapy techniques with principles from sensorimotor psychotherapy. This approach recognizes the interconnectedness of the mind and body, emphasizing the importance of sensory experiences and bodily sensations in the therapeutic process. Shapes play a crucial role in sensorimotor art therapy by providing a non-verbal language for individuals to communicate and process their embodied experiences.
Sensorimotor Art Therapy Drawing
In sensorimotor art therapy, the act of creating shapes on paper or through other artistic mediums becomes a kinesthetic and sensory experience. The shapes individuals choose to draw, the pressure they apply, and the overall movement involved in creating the shapes can offer insights into their emotional and somatic states. At the heart of sensorimotor art therapy is the kinesthetic experience—the awareness and connection between bodily movements and the creation of art.
As individuals manipulate brushes, pencils, or other artistic tools, they engage in a dance of expression that goes beyond the confines of verbal communication. This tactile involvement fosters a deeper connection with the self, allowing emotions and sensations to surface in a unique and profound way. Therapists may encourage clients to pay attention to the bodily sensations that arise during the art-making process, fostering a deeper connection between the mind and body.
One of the primary goals of sensorimotor art therapy is to unlock and express emotions that may be challenging to articulate verbally. As individuals immerse themselves in the creative process, the subconscious mind comes to the forefront, revealing thoughts and feelings that may have been buried or overlooked. This form of expression serves as a therapeutic outlet, enabling individuals to confront and process their emotions in a safe and supportive environment.
In sensorimotor art therapy, the process of shaping takes on a dynamic quality, mirroring the ebb and flow of emotions and physical sensations. The deliberate movements required to craft these shapes create a kinesthetic experience that connects the mind and body in a symbiotic dance. As individuals manipulate artistic tools, whether it be the sweeping strokes of a brush or the deliberate carving of lines, they are not merely creating art; they are embodying their emotions, giving form to the ineffable aspects of their experience.
The non-verbal language of shapes also provides a bridge between the conscious and subconscious realms. Often, individuals may find it challenging to articulate complex emotions verbally or may be unaware of certain aspects of their embodied experiences. Shapes become a medium through which the subconscious can express itself freely, offering therapists valuable insights into the individual's internal world.
Guided drawing is a directive approach in art therapy where the therapist provides specific instructions or themes to guide the creation of art. Shapes are often used as a starting point or as building blocks in guided drawing exercises. The structured nature of guided drawing can be particularly helpful for individuals who may find the open-ended nature of art-making overwhelming.
Shapes can also be employed in guided drawing as a means of promoting emotional regulation. An art therapist guides individuals to work with shapes in a guided drawing exercise by creating a supportive and non-judgmental space where the participant can freely explore their emotions and sensations. The therapist may begin by introducing the concept of shapes as a form of non-verbal communication, explaining that shapes can serve as vessels for expressing internal experiences that might be challenging to articulate verbally. This intentional focus on shapes helps clients externalize and process emotions, providing a structured outlet for emotional expression.