How Art Can Heal by Cheri Spiczka – Clinical Care Consultants, Arlington Heights and Inverness

How Art Can Heal


Cheri Spiczka, MA, LCPC

I have worked with adolescents and teens for over 14 years, and though I am there to guide them, I find they often have more to teach me. I have learned that as a direct result of being their own worst critics, they try to escape the emotional distress of their lives through self-injury, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, over or under eating, sexual promiscuity, and other punishing and self-defeating choices.

Many of my teen clients are unreasonably hard on themselves about grades, social status, sport performance, looks, and personality resulting in an inability to manage the seemingly never-ending moments of feeling not good enough. Sadly, many teens sport a really good “poker face” which effectively projects confidence, happiness and stability while hiding their darker and more insecure selves. Behind this mask lies an ocean of doubt, insecurity, and fear that feels like a burden too heavy to bear.

Let me exemplify the above with some art pieces that my clients created during our psychotherapy sessions, which they have given me permission to share. Each was created in response to such questions as: “Who do you want to be and what’s keeping you from that?”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “What do you show people on the outside vs. how you may really feel on the inside?”  Some clients need no “prompting” or directive and simply use the art process to draw what they are thinking or feeling.

Sometimes the image drawn can speak volumes about what it is like to be in their shoes feeling the emotions they feel as they move through their world. It can be very telling about how they see themselves and how they think others see them. Whether given a directive or not, the clients always learn something about themselves through the process of creating the art. This is a wonderful tool to bring them closer to self actualization.

Because of my specialized training in Art Therapy, I have the added benefit of knowing what questions to ask a teen to think about that will provoke self-reflection and consequential thinking. When responding to these questions through art it can be less direct and therefore less threatening. It also provides a tangible “road map” that they can reference as often as they need to when faced with adversity or doubt.

Because the adolescent and teen years can be tumultuous and charged with intense emotion, I take great pride and fulfillment in being an aid and alley in the process of navigating these waters. My clients can feel my genuine passion for my work with them and this is what makes the therapy so powerful.

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