Mandy Hollands Ish, B.Ed., M.Ed., CTAP*
You do not need to be an artist or a ‘creative type’ to engage in therapeutic art-making. The goal is not to ‘make something pretty’ but rather to allow yourself the freedom to express what may yet be uncovered or that which may not be easily and readily expressed in words. Therapeutic art-making is for everyone, all ages, and at all stages of life. The process can be playful and joyful and can also be an expression of emotion with deep catharsis. It goes where you take it and at a pace you set for your own level of comfort. The practitioner is there to guide your process and to hold space for you as you navigate your experience.
“Therapeutic art-making is an organized process that invites participant collaboration in a creative and transformative experience, with the intention of positively influencing the participants. Therapeutic artmaking experiences may result in mental health outcomes, although this is not the intent. Unlike art therapy, therapeutic art making is not based in the process of therapy nor facilitated by an art therapist. Therapeutic art making identifies goals which address the broader effect the process of art-making may have on the participants. The role of the facilitator is to be present in guiding participants through a positive experience. In summary, we can understand therapeutic art making to be a collaborative, positive, transformative experience that is not based in the process of therapy and addressees the broader effect that art making has on the participants.” (Caddy, Crawford & Page, 2012; Combat Paper Project, n.d.; Glaister, 1994; Joe Bonham Project, n.d.; Peace Paper Project, n.d.; VAP Veteran Artist Program, 2014; Veterans Book Project, n.d.; Walsh Culpepper Martin & Schmidt, 2004)
*Mandy studied Art Therapy with Lucille Proulx and is now in progress* towards completing her certification as a Therapeutic Arts Practitioner at CiiAT. Learn more about Mandy.