Art psychotherapy sessions usually have elements of both art-making and verbal exchange. However, there is no set formula and usually the client can choose how they wish to divide the session between the two. Sometimes there is much to be said and sometimes the client may wish to be entirely emerged in art-making. The therapeutic process will usually be guided by the client. The therapist stays continuously attuned to the client and helps facilitate the discovery process. Art materials are always provided in the room and the client can use these freely. Sessions usually take place once a week at the same time.
The role of the art therapist is not to make an aesthetic or diagnostic assessment of the client’s image, but to use the art as a tool to work therapeutically through a problem or issue. As with verbal psychotherapy, the therapist will not try to interpret what a client was thinking, but will instead use psychotherapy techniques to explore the artwork with the individual. The session becomes similar to verbal therapy, with the art being the method through which to gather more information, provide a permanent record, and to help a client get closer to the issue.
Therapy begins with an initial meeting to discuss what the client hopes to gain or resolve. Sessions usually take place once a week at the same time.