Let's talk Prevention: Couples Art Therapy?
Participating in couples art therapy can be a way to explore barriers, communicate in a different way, and strengthen an already solid relationship.
Relationships have their ups and downs, and sometimes couples find themselves in a rut, struggling to communicate effectively or understand each other's needs. Other times, we find ourselves facing detours and roadblocks that get in the way of what used to be fluid communication.
Participating in couples art therapy can be a way to have a professional sounding board, that may be less intimidating than a talk-based therapy approach. Art therapy can provide a safe space for couples to explore their emotions, explore communication styles, and strengthen relationships.
Here are five reasons why couples art therapy may help:
1. Identify barriers with a scapegoat (the art)
Art therapy provides each person with a safe space to express themselves and their experience of the relationship. Each partner is encouraged to express themselves not only through words, but through lines, symbols, shapes, and colours. Partners may feel more comfortable sharing difficult personal feelings through art, rather than with just words. Art can be a way to represent one's perspective without pointing fingers or placing blame (which can be unintentional). The art can act as a scapegoat for the couple, a third thing for the problem to reveal itself within. Rather than placing blame on the partner, the negative feelings are placed within the art, which can make it easier to look at an issue and come up with a creative solution together.
|As the couple discusses their art, the couple can communicate openly, identify barriers, and engage in creative problem solving.
One of the key benefits of art therapy is its ability to facilitate communication in a non-threatening way. Couples who struggle to express their emotions verbally can use art as a medium to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Art therapy encourages active listening and provides a platform for couples to engage in meaningful dialogue. By engaging in joint art projects or interpreting each other's artwork, couples can learn to communicate more effectively, fostering a stronger connection and resolving conflicts more constructively.
3. Enhanced Empathy
Art therapy fosters empathy by allowing couples to step into each other's shoes and gain a new perspective. Through art-making, partners can explore different themes, emotions, and experiences, which can help them develop a greater understanding of each other's struggles and joys. We can look at ways to foster compassion, support, and create the most nurturing environment for the couple to thrive.
4. Novel and Exciting Activity
Engaging in art therapy as a couple may be a novel activity for the couple. There is research that shows that particpating together in novel activities can enhance the experience of relationship quality (Aron et al., 2000). Art therapy can provide an opportunity for partners to step out of their routine and explore their creativity together. This shared experience can create new shared memories and discover new aspects of themselves and their partner.
5. Strengthening the Relationship
Art therapy is not solely focused on addressing a conflict within a relationship. There doesn't need to be an identifiable problem or conflict for a couple to choose to participate in art therapy. It can be a proactive and preventative approach. The therapy goal for participating in art therapy can be to strengthen the relationship, try something new as a couple, and to better understand oneself and one's partner. By participating in art therapy, couples are investing in their relationship and prioritizing their connection. This shared commitment can create a sense of unity and reinforce the foundation of the relationship, leading to increased trust, intimacy, and overall relationship satisfaction.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Does There Need to Be a "Problem" for a Couple to attend art therapy?
Not necessarily. Couples may not necessarily have a catastrophic problem to benefit from art therapy. Attending art therapy as a couple can be a preventative approach. The therapy goal may be to strengthen the relationship, support a partner, explore communication styles. Art therapy provides a safe space and supportive environment for each partner to explore emotions, enhance their understanding of oneself and one's partner, and spark creative connection.
Q: I am not an artist. How can I possibly participate in art therapy?
One does not need to call oneself an "artist" to participate and make gains within art therapy. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines "artist" as "a person who creates art (such as painting, sculpture, music, or writing) using conscious skill and creative imagination".
The only requirement is to be open to the process of curiosity and creation.
Are you willing to try?
Aron A, Norman CC, Aron EN, McKenna C, Heyman RE. Couples' shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Feb;78(2):273-84. doi: 10.1037//0022-35188.8.131.523. PMID: 10707334.
Artist definition & meaning (2023) Merriam-Webster. Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/artist (Accessed: 01 December 2023).