Art and Psychotherapy

“One submits oneself to other minds (teachers) in order to increase the chance that one will be looking in the right direction when a comet suddenly cuts through a certain patch of sky.”  –Elaine Scarry (Beauty and Being Just)

While in painting and drawing classes, teachers offer valuable lessons to enhance each student’s mastery and work. We learn to paint with a full range of values, from the lightest light, to the darkest dark. Paintings are often primarily light or primarily dark. Just like people, both types are beautiful.

Elements in artistic expression (values, colors, composition, shapes…) may contribute to a sense of harmony and/or disharmony. The artist’s mastery of his/her medium(s) (oils, cameras, writing tools, musical instruments, etc) transcends theories and techniques in the service of beautiful works.

Elements in a psychotherapeutic relationship may contribute to harmony and/or disharmony in states of being, understanding, empathy, etc.  The therapist’s mastery of his/her medium(s) (his/her person, experience, relating, theories, listening, interpreting, etc) transcend theories and technique in the service of the therapeutic relationship and relationally beautiful moments.

Psychotherapy and art may each contribute to beautiful moments of:


-feeling deeply understood.

-natural, artistic, moral, playful, social, relational and/or spiritual renewal.

-states or qualities of symmetry and/or harmony.

-arrangements of parts into a unified whole.




-resonating experience (narrative, images, memories, senses, emotions)…

Painting (Mixed Media) © Lynn Preston 2011

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