Did you know that art therapy can be an excellent added support for individuals experiencing Eating Disorders?
We interviewed Lori Market, CTP MSW RSW, professional artist and past clinical therapist for BANA (Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association), to tell us about art therapy and how it can help those with Eating Disorders.
A little bit about Lori:
Lori has been a practicing artist for the past 28 years. Later on in her life, she became a social worker and trauma practitioner. This allowed her to combine her love of both art and social work. Lori is also a trauma survivor and uses her art as a way of healing her own trauma.
When she was in a good place with her trauma, Lori realized that a lot of people who were struggling wanted to give back. This is why Lori decided to pursue social work. In Lori’s unique practice, she takes the creative part of the brain and combines it with her social work and trauma practitioner certification to help people express themselves therapeutically through using art.
Questions and Answers:
1. How does art help with healing trauma?
Art therapy combines art and therapeutic ideas. Different from an art class, it improves anger management, stress management, impulse control, and is relaxing for the brain. Art can be seen as a container that holds the therapy inside of it. It is about taking all the pain inside and putting it on a surface. In this way, it helps people visualize and see their pain in a different way. It allows people to separate their difficult emotions and life circumstances from themselves.
2. How can art therapy benefit people with Eating Disorders?
Art therapy can greatly benefit people with Eating Disorders in a number of ways:
- By externalizing and objectifying difficult feelings, art can act as a map for when people feel lost. Art acts as a positive container that holds activities that you love, by putting your emotions on a piece of paper instead of elsewhere. For example, at BANA, many of Lori’s clients struggled with anxiety. She would tell her clients to draw their anxiety, and then draw what helps their anxiety.
- Art is an active mind-body process that can serve as a distraction from an Eating Disorder. While doing art, you are moving your hands and different parts of your body to create.
- There is much research out there on trauma (which can often lead to EDs), showing that art is a helpful support. https://www.arttherapy.org/EatingDisorderToolkit/eatingdisorderstoolkit.pdf
3. What are some benefits of art therapy over conventional psychotherapy?
- Psychotherapy requires a person to talk. Art is a different form of narrative and requires no words. It can be useful if you feel uncomfortable, scared or threatened to open up. Art creates a safe place allowing people to share their stories without speaking a word. The art does the talking.
- Art therapy is a form of anti-oppressive therapy. This is because when partaking in art therapy, the therapist and client art doing something together. In conventional psychotherapy, one person sits across from another. Art therapy is a different, less threatening way of communicating.
4. Who would you recommend art therapy to?
Anyone! In addition to the ED population, Lori has done it with every age group (from children to teens to adults), refugees, Indigenous populations, and youth victims of crime. Another advantage of art is that it is holistic. It can be used to express culture, identity, spirituality, political means, and to draw attention to social justice. It can really be used for anything!
5. What would you say to people who are a little hesitant to try out this form of therapy?
“Just try it a couple of times! Try it twice, and if you don’t like it you never have to come back again”!
When this happens, Lori lowers the expectation and helps the client defy perfectionism. For example, she may tell a client to draw with their eyes closed or to just scribble!
Lori never had a single client who did not enjoy art therapy. Every piece turns out well! It doesn’t have to be picture perfect.
Thank you, Lori Market for this very informative interview!