The emerging adult is often striving for independence from their parents and at the same time, needs them for financial and emotional support. They are poised on the brink of their future with the many possibilities and fears associated with the decisions they must make. This may become overwhelming at times. Art therapy offers an opportunity to understand who they are and what their roles might be. In groups, it provides support of others facing similar issues.
Outcomes of Art Therapy for Young Adults
Art therapy offers a natural vehicle for opening doors to nonverbal communication in situations where talking may be very difficult. Art promotes the expression of emotions and bypasses the need for participants to edit their feelings and thoughts. Art is a way of seeking truth through our inner realities. Once an emotion is made tangible and concrete as an art piece, the emerging adult may find it easier to speak about it with others.
Art therapy at Yellowbrick is used to improve physical, mental and emotional states. It can be a cathartic release, a means to increase self-esteem and an exploration of deep subconscious issues. The artist creates and the art therapist facilitates the emerging adult’s own understanding of what they have made. The art therapist does not analyze the work but asks the client to explain what they understand about their pieces. The art therapist watches for patterns in the work from which interventions may be developed. Someone who draws in a very contained fashion may be asked to go out of his or her comfort zone and use a medium of which they have little control. The emerging adult who may be struggling with grief and loss may be encouraged to use watercolors as a means of letting go. Anger is often the emotion most difficult to express, as the consequences of expressing anger may seem to be catastrophic to a relationship. The art therapist encourages the use of materials that are very assertive and physical in nature. The artists are asked to use the pressure of their whole body in the creation of a piece. The artist is also asked not to contain their art on the page but to go off the edge, symbolizing breaking their own personal censors on rage.
What to Expect from Art Therapy
A prompt may be given by the art therapist that addresses specific issues such as trauma, addictions or eating disorders. An emerging adult struggling with trauma may use the art to explore not only the trauma itself but to explore what might be a safe place and what might prove empowering. This may be done in a smaller and more intimate group with others who share similar experiences. The emerging adult in an addiction group may use the art to explore issues around both shame and forgiveness. The emerging adult with symptoms of an eating disorder are asked to use the art to explore body image and the emotions beneath the symptoms.
Matters of the Mind and Art Therapy
The art therapist may consult with the neuroscientist to gain a better understanding of how the emerging adults brain may be functioning and what might be an indicated art therapy intervention. A task may be designed to activate a certain region or possibly to calm an overly active region. Some emerging adults might be allowed to use art during an over-stimulating situation to stay calm and grounded.
Art therapy provides the emerging adult an opportunity to have a voice in a very real and concrete way. This in itself is empowering for an emerging adult and often a means of finding their own path.
See the inspiring work of the Yellowbrick Emerging Adult Art Show in the Art Show Book.