Why use arts based methods in therapy?

  • 1. Art can create a safe way to speak about hard things. Talking about trauma histories, struggles with mental health and loss can be really hard. For some folks it is nearly impossible. Some will actually experience something that we call the “freeze trauma response.” This is a trauma response where someone is actually unable to speak and in some cases are unable to move. Think a “deer in headlights.” As a therapist my number one goal is making therapy safe and to this end, ensuring that clients are able to set boundaries, speaking when it feels safe for them. Art can be a safe way to speak and communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions.
  • 2. Art can help us to sit with and process thoughts, emotions and experiences. Historically I have used art as a way for clients to process hard feelings. Often, when we experience uncomfortable and painful emotions our inclination is to avoid, run and hide. Hence yet another trauma response called the flight response. This is when someone will try to escape thoughts, emotions and situations as they are detected as unsafe. Arts-based methods can be a safe way for clients to sit with these feelings for longer periods of time.
  • 3. For some folks; art, poetry, music and writing are forms of expression that come naturally. Art can be a mode of soothing and therefore it can enable us to stay within our window of tolerance while processing hard emotions.
  • 4. Arts based methods can be great for folks living with neurodivergence. For some, just sitting for too long, making eye contact and talking is difficult. Including art in therapy make this process more comfortable and accessible for folks living with neurodivergence. Toi Toujours Counselling is unique as we offer arts based methods that compliment evidenced based therapeutic modalities.
  • Chantal Pfaff is a trained and practising artist, holding a bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Guelph. Chantal is also an experienced social worker, psychotherapist, holding degrees in social work from Wilfrid Laurier as well University of Waterloo.
portrait Chantal Pfaff Toi Toujours
Chantal Pfaff Toi Toujours Counselling Guelph Kitchener WaterlooChantal Pfaff Toi Toujours Counselling Guelph Kitchener Waterloo