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  • Writer's pictureNadina Dodd

What is the difference between art therapy and Counselling?

Art therapy and counselling are two different therapeutic approaches that can sometimes be integrated, but they have distinct methods and goals. 

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. The key aspect of art therapy is the creation of visual imagery as a therapeutic activity. Art therapists believe that it is the process of engaging in the creation of artwork that is therapeutic in itself and can help people increase their self-awareness, understand their emotions, process memories, communicate feelings and thoughts and reduce stress. It's particularly useful for individuals who may find it difficult to express their thoughts and feelings verbally. 

Counselling, often used interchangeably with psychotherapy, typically involves talking therapy where a trained therapist helps a person to talk about their struggles, thoughts and feelings in a confidential, safe space with another person who offers empathy, validation and respect. Counsellors are trained to listen actively with empathy and to help people navigate negative thoughts and intense feelings they have. The focus is more on the dialogue, the examination of issues at a deep level and the development of a trusting therapeutic relationship that can facilitate personal growth, problem-solving skills, self-compassion and transformation. 

The difference lies in the mediums they use: counselling relies on the art of conversation, while art therapy centers on non-verbal communication and expression through the creative process. Both can be effective for a variety of issues, and the best approach depends on the individual's needs, preferences, and issues at hand. 

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