Exploring Art Therapy & Trauma | Part 3


Welcome to the final section of our interview with our art therapist, Val Koutmina ATR-BC, LCAT, who works with survivors of sexual trauma. In Part 3, you will read about what happens in Val’s group art therapy session and why she believes art therapy is important.

What happens in your art therapy sessions?

  • The group always starts with guided meditation, which encourages relaxation, focus and breathing deeply. Clients are then presented with a theme or art-based directive related to their clinical goals and then choose their art materials. There may be ongoing dialogue and discussion as participants work with the chosen themes and supplies. There is an opportunity for participants to then share their artwork with each other and engage in processing the artwork and the emotional content it may connect to. We close each session with an affirmation, group feedback and support.

  • We also take moments to pause throughout the art therapy session. This practice allows us to breathe and notice, honoring whatever feeling or part comes up in that moment. Clients have remarked that learning to pause has allowed them to stop and change negative behaviors in their daily lives.

  • To end the group, clients will take a small bead or token, which serves as a transitional object. Having a tangible object to take with them that is tactile becomes a reminder for clients that they have this group and support system - they can keep that reminder in their thoughts until the next session.

Why is art therapy important?

  • Art therapy makes it safer for clients to navigate their defenses and explore their traumas. It’s nonverbal, visceral and engaging.

  • The body is making visible what has been invisible and gives it another mode of expression.

  • Art therapy helps integrate verbal, non-verbal, sensory, and somatic experience to promote continuity and integrity of the healthy self.

  • Clients might not have the language for explaining their experiences. Art therapy gives access to it and a voice to express it, which, as it grows stronger, empowers positive change and insight.

For more information about our art therapists, click here.

All PostsMartha Dorn