Arts-Based Wellness

What is art therapy?

Art therapy is a mental health profession that focuses on using the creative process to promote health and well-being in individuals of all ages. Art therapists use art-making as a method for self-expression and believe that individuals can express themselves with images in ways they cannot express with words. 

Lauren Daugherty, art therapist and Arts-based Wellness Experiences Manager, shares her vision for art therapy at the Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Description of the video:

Lauren Daugherty: Art therapy at it’s core is a mental health profession that promotes
health and well-being in individuals of all ages with a variety of concerns.
But it really is a lot more than that here at the Eskenazi Museum of Art — it’s a
way for people to understand better the world around them and their relationships with others
by immersing themselves in the creative process.
So here our programming we’re doing things in the galleries we’re looking at and talking
about art.
And we’re also making art in our brand new art-making studio.Heidi Davis-Soylu: It’s
actually quite unusual to have an art therapist on staff at a university art museum.
There are a handful of art therapy programs at big city art museums.
But the Eskenazi Museum of Art is really at the leading edge of the art therapy presence
in university context.
Our art therapy program is going to make the museum more accessible to individuals with
disabilities for example, or those with mental health concerns, or simply those wanting to
grow and learn more about themselves and the world they live in.
As a teaching museum, we feel it is important to invite every audience possible to engage
with our collection and to experience our art therapy program.Lauren Daugherty: The
way art therapists utilize art materials is a little bit different from traditional art
For example, individuals with anxiety, they often are most successful with materials that
are more controllable.
So things like collage, markers, and colored pencils.
And folks that can handle art materials that offer a little bit more of an emotive response
— they will use things such as pastels and watercolor.
There are art materials that fit individuals of all levels of functioning and art therapists
are specifically trained mental health professionals that know when to use those materials to support
their clients and make them as successful as possible.Sharon Wiseman: I was fortunate
to take part in an Art Heals class that Lauren Daugherty gave for Lifelong Learning at IU
and I learned some very interesting things.
First, what fun it was to be exposed to a lot of different art materials —everything
from clay to watercolor to pastels.
And as an adult we just don’t have that much opportunity to play and to work with
art materials.
Second, it was very interesting for me to learn how art and art materials could be used
in therapy to help people lead better lives.
And it gives me great hope that many people will have an opportunity to take advantage
of this.
And third, it was very satisfying to be able to use color, line, art materials in a way
to express emotions or something that was happening in my own life.
And then to see it, there physically, or on paper.
And I really hope that more people have an opportunity to experience art therapy.Lauren
Daugherty: Art therapy at the Eskenazi Museum of Art utilizes a unique approach — one
that isn’t really present in the majority of art therapy programs.
It places just as much emphasis on the meanings that art therapy clients find in works in
our collection and the meaning they find in works they create themselves.
By offering this type of art therapy in a university art museum, we’re connecting
students, staff, faculty, and members of the Bloomington community with wonderful works
of art.
We’re exposing those same individuals to the healing power of the creative process
and are promoting health and well-being campus and community wide.
The art therapy program allows the museum to further activate it’s wonderful collection
and our art-making studio by encouraging deep, personal meaning-making and reflection, which
then allows art therapy clients to really, you know, make a lasting connection with the
museum, with specific works of art, and with art making processes that lead to healing.

Still have questions or want to learn even more? Attend one of our information sessions. Here, you will be able to ask questions and learn how to be an art therapy advocate.

How is arts-based wellness different from art therapy?

Wellness experiences focus on utilizing art-making for stress relief and self-care. Common examples of wellness activities are coloring mandalas or doodling. While these can be done with therapeutic intention, most often they can be used without a therapist present.

We have something for everyone

Our art therapy programs aren't just for IU students, faculty, and staff. The museum is a community resource, including our art therapy program. Whether you're just beginning to use art as a way to express yourself or are ready to engage in more challenging conversations about art and what it means to you, we have an art therapy or wellness experience for you. Check our calendar for upcoming wellness and art therapy events.

Open Studio

On the first Thursday of every month during the academic year, the art-making studio is open from 1:00–4:00 p.m. for anyone who wants to make some art! You are welcome to use the art supplies provided in the studio or bring your own. All ages and abilities are welcome. No previous art-making experience is necessary.