I’m a Black Woman in Art Therapy for 8 Months! Here’s My Experience and how it’s helping my personal growth and healing journey.
Did you know that July is Minority Mental Health Month? I advocate wellness and mental hygiene for everyone, especially Black women and Black mothers. I believe it’s essential that we share more of our stories about our mental health journey and mental hygiene routines to remove the stigma in our community. There are many proactive ways we can practice mental hygiene, and one of them is seeking therapy.
I’m a Black Woman in Art Therapy for 8 Months! Here’s My Experience…
My first time seeking therapy was in college shortly after a traumatic life-altering experience. At the time, I believed I was so strong and resilient that I didn’t notice the effects that experience had on my mental health until I went to therapy. It helped me heal, and since then, I’ve bravely sought out therapy whenever I needed to.
Last fall, I was hit with Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) in the worst way after two winters of thriving. I couldn’t do any of the basic things I needed to or enjoyed doing. It was a dark time for me, so I decided to see a therapist. I was in such a difficult place the therapist recommended I see her twice a week. As she got to know me a little better, she suggested that I switch to art therapy. That was last November, and I’ve met with my art therapist every week since. Since March, we’ve had to do virtual sessions, but it’s been one of the most healing experiences I’ve had outside of sound meditation (that’s for another day). If you’re considering art therapy, here are a few ways it has helped me heal and grow as a person:
Three ways I’ve been able to heal and grow as a Black woman in art therapy:
I’ve been able to build my mental health toolkit.
Almost every session, my art therapist and I do an exercise that I can later add to my mental health toolkit. This is major because these are practices I can incorporate into my life when dealing with life challenges or struggling mentally. I can do an appropriate exercise from that toolkit. It’s also helped me as a mother because I’m able to pass those tools on to my kids when they’re struggling with anxiety or having a stressful day.
It’s helped me to recognize my healing powers.
As a child, I did art constantly, and I didn’t realize it then, but that’s how I healed myself of some of the trauma I experienced.
You can talk, or you can do creative healing.
Most of us aren’t raised to share our personal business; we have secrets. I had to hold to carry secrets since my childhood, especially on a small island, so it’s still difficult for me to talk to a therapist about certain things. When I cannot speak about something, in art therapy, we explore them creatively.
I’ve come a long way in the last eight months. I’ve gained a deeper understanding of myself and learned a lot of perspective on how I can improve myself.
I’ve shared my experience both when I first started art therapy and updates in my Instagram stories. Last week I asked for questions, so here are the answers:
Answers to Instagram Questions about my experience as a Black woman in art therapy.
How do you find an art therapist?
My therapist was a referral, but you can find one on the American Art Therapist Association website.
Is your art therapist Black?
No, my art therapist isn’t Black, but she is an ally and culturally sensitive. You can find a Black therapist on Therapy for Black Girls or by searching the Psychology Today database where there are photos of all the therapists so you can find one you think you would feel comfortable seeing. Just keep in mind that any therapist you choose regardless of race, do a few feel-out sessions to see if you’re comfortable with them. You will know when you find the right one.
How much does art therapy cost?
My health insurance covers the cost of therapy and art therapy. You can check your insurance website or call your provider to see if it is covered. You can also call art therapists to find out their rates to see who fits your budget or if money is tight, try to find one with a sliding scale. Whatever you do, please don’t let money stop you.
Would art therapy be helpful for those of us with no creative ability?
Yes, I believe art therapy would be helpful for everyone regardless of how talented or creative we view ourselves. In my art therapy sessions, we’ve done activities like writing, working with objects, improv, games, grounding, vision board building, to name a few. I think more than anything; you will need to be open to trying different types of self-expression.
Do art therapist talk with you too or only do art?
Yes, you will definitely want to ensure that you’re seeing a licensed art therapist. They are trained psychotherapists, so they work with you through talking and creative expression, not just one.
Could an art therapist prescribe medicine?
I’ve never been prescribed medicine for mental health disorders, but I believe you would have to go to a psychiatrist for an evaluation to get a prescription if necessary. When I first started seeing my therapist, she recommended that I do a physical health exam with my primary doctor to ensure I didn’t have any hormonal issues that triggered mental health issues, so be sure to do that as well to rule out any possibilities.
How long are your sessions?
Each session lasts 50 minutes; it doesn’t go by as fast as therapy, I guess, because we sometimes do a few projects during this time.
What practices do you have to help counter triggers of anxiety?
Thanks to my treatment with my art therapist, I rarely have anxiety attacks now (although I had a bad one last month). The critical things for me have been establishing a wellness morning routine, so I start my day off with the right mindset, meditating, journaling, and setting boundaries with people in my life (the hardest one).
Are you going to have Seasonal Affected Disorder again in the fall?
I think I have it and didn’t know the name for it.
Honestly, I don’t know if I will, but I hope not. I’ve dealt with it on and off since I first moved to New York City during the darker months. Some years I’m fine like the last previous years, so I’ll have to wait and see.
If you think you have SAD, I would recommend that you try to find treatment through therapy of try light therapy.
I hope you found this post informative! Please take care of yourself, hydrate, and get therapy if you need it.