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Improving wellbeing through creative expression

23 March 2022

Community services Mental health
Creative art therapy uses art as a mode of expression and communication to help people address emotional issues which may be causing uncertainty or distress.
Tapping into creativity while engaging in activities such as drawing, painting, music, dance, drama, creative writing or clay work, for example, can help process difficult emotions or experiences. 

Artistic ability is not necessary to be able to engage with art therapy. Sessions are tailored to individual needs and focus on the goals and wellbeing of each person. 

More than words

Creative art therapists are trained counsellors and facilitators, providing a safe place for expression and helping people use varied artistic media to explore and process their feelings. 

Creative art therapy sessions include talking about experiences, however using art materials as well can help people creatively express thoughts and feelings that can sometimes be difficult to put into words. 

For example, for someone living with a condition like post-traumatic stress disorder, engaging in art therapy may help them safely communicate and process their experiences, helping them regain a sense of authorship over their life and providing a pathway to healing. 

Gaining new insight

In addition to encouraging mindfulness, using a creative mode for expression as part of mental health treatment can help people identify blocks and feelings, provide new insights and develop new coping skills. 

The act of creating something during therapy sessions can also relieve stress and anxiety, enhance self-esteem, cultivate emotional resilience, improve confidence and problem-solving skills as well as help manage symptoms. 

Finding self-expression

Creating in different forms, with different art media, has different effects on the brain. For example, working with clay has a different effect than painting or dancing. Creative art therapists will assist in finding medias that suit the ongoing needs of their client throughout their sessions. 

The role of a creative art therapist is to help clients find modes of self-expression that work best for them, helping them learn a new way to explore what they’re going through so they can find a way forward. 

St John of God Mental Wellbeing Services in Western Australia can provide art therapy services and anyone can access our free or low-cost services via referral from their GP. 
Ellen Tatchley art therapist
Ellen Tatchley - Art Therapist

Ellen Tatchley is a community-based art therapist for St John of God’s Mental Wellbeing Services in Western Australia.

Ellen provides creative arts therapy for adolescent and adult clients living with mental health issues. 

Ellen is experienced in providing therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and trauma, and for adolescents and adults living with severe mental health challenges.

She is known for her warm nature and her flexible and empathetic approach with clients and colleagues.