Art Therapist: Christina Anderson

Art therapy allows emotional exploration and self evaluation by tapping into creativity.

Photo by Paul Miller

If Christina Anderson, founder of Christina Anderson Counseling & Art Therapy, could encourage us to do one thing this year—it would be to tap into our creativity more. In Anderson’s world of art and exploration, she works closely with clients on techniques to slow down and take a moment for self-care and awareness.

Walk us through your practice and what it entails.

“After talking with clients about their therapy goals, I help match art therapy themes or materials for promoting self-exploration. Sometimes clients need the freedom to use a blank canvas to honor emotions that have been bottled. Others need more structure where I ask them to paint, draw, or sculpt a specific theme that helps bring awareness to a memory, thought, or feeling. Art can also be used as a coping strategy to practice mindfulness of creating artwork with extra awareness of breathing, relaxing body tension, and creating images to capture reminders of comfort. There are so many fun and challenging ways to use art to meet people where they are and help them with their growth.”

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What kinds of struggles do you see with your clients?

“Everyone wants to be cared about, to matter, and to have things that matter to them. Clients struggle with moments we all go through at some point: loss, life not going as planned, heartbreak, loneliness, or wanting more out of their day-to-day. We go through so much and our emotions can be so intense. I am glad art therapy is there as an approach to help clients cope and find their way.”

How does art therapy help your clients in ways traditional therapy does not?

“Feelings are sometimes hard to put into words and being able to approach a feeling or memory from another perspective can help bridge that gap. Creativity can also help strengthen problem-solving skills, awareness of feelings, and practice self-compassion.”

What misconceptions are there about using art therapy?

“A lot of clients are worried about them or their art being vulnerably psychoanalyzed and that is not how I approach art therapy. To me, it’s about using art as an extension of self-expression. Understanding a client’s references, associations, and experiences help connect their meaning with their artwork and promote self-awareness. To feel whole, understood, balanced, and meaningful is a wonderful gift to one’s self.”

What’s your favorite part about what you do for a living?

“Seeing people accept their self-worth and have compassion and care for their emotional health. Or the ‘lightbulb’ moments when art reflects a feeling that has been pushed down and gets to be supported for relief and closure.