Art is beautiful…and also healing..
I had the opportunity to interview the talented Megan McSwain. Read on to learn more about her life, practice, and philosophies..
What is the Georgia Art Therapy Association (GATA)?
Her personal view:
I am licensed art therapist and professional counselor in a private practice in Atlanta. I primarily work with children, teens, and their families. I work with a range of emotional and psychological issue, primarily: problems of life transitions (changing schools, grief, divorce), stress and anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, self harming behaviors, eating disorders, and normal developmental issues of childhood. I also provide workshops and lectures about art therapy and other mental and emotional health issues, such as family communication and healthy relationships.
For more about my private practice please visit my website: http://www.meganmcswain.org/
“The Georgia Art Therapy Association (GATA), a statewide non-profit organization, was founded in 1978. GATA is an affiliate Chapter of the national organization, The American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (AATA). Members belong to both organizations, but GATA also includes those who support the practice of art therapy, as a Friend of GATA. We provide activities for art therapists and other professionals in the Southeast to educate the public about art therapy.”www.georgiaarttherapy.org
What’s the mission of the association? I would say that the primary mission is both to provide support for art therapists in Georgia and to promote and provide information about art therapy, in the form of workshops and other outreach events.
How can one learn more about the association? Website: http://www.georgiaarttherapy.org/
How is art therapy different from other types of therapy?
Art therapy involves the use of art (both making and viewing) as a way to process and heal psychological challenges. The art making process can be helpful in both the diagnostic and healing process. Often the artwork created is as much about the process as the final product.
What are some specific benefits art can offer? Art and the art making process can offer many benefits when utilized therapeutically. 1. It allows people to process and see their problems and strengths in new ways 2. It becomes a tangible witness to the often more invisible process of therapy 3. It utilizes different parts of the brain than talking 4. Offers a way to break out of patterns of communication particularly in families (the art can often become a new voice or way of communicating.) 5. Helps people see their problems as separate from their identity. Just to name a few (:
How has your background in art shaped your therapy sessions?
As a painter art has always been my therapy, so when I heard about the profession of art therapy it was a natural fit. I think that many artists feel compelled to make art as an outward manifestation or expression of complex internal processes and emotions. I also feel that within all of us is the capacity to create art, and art therapy provides the opportunity to do just that.
How do you feel your art and therapy education have shaped your practice?
As a private practitioner, my practice with clients involving both traditional talk psychotherapy practices and making art. Often I will take an issues, such as anxiety or depression, and process it verbally, i.e. discussing triggers or history of the problem, then I will have the client use art to process and explore the issues more deeply, such as making a painting of a sculpture about the issue. In the art making clients can see aspects of the problem and solutions that they many not recognize verbally. Often in life we talk about the heart (emotions) vs. the head (logic). I think as people, we can talk from a very head based place about an issue, but the creation of artwork allows us to cut more directly to the heart.
What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
Right now I am also work towards a doctorate (DrAT) in art therapy. This is a relatively new degree that has only been developed in the last couple of years. In my research I am exploring the nonverbal communications dynamics between parents and children. My goal is to create tangible resources for parents to use art to improve their relationship with their children. I think there is much to be gained from the art making process both in terms of self awareness and emotional health. It is also my personal goal to become more involved in expanding the field of art therapy so that more people can benefit for the healing and insight provided by the art making processes. I also would like to work towards teaching art therapy at the college level, and create more chances for students to learn about art therapy or become art therapists.