The Ramblings of an Art Therapist

January 24, 2021 9:02 am Published by
Ruth Falconer is a qualified art therapist that has worked with people from all over BallyCara. She has taken some time out of her busy schedule to reflect on the immensity of her work.

Creativity. We are all creative beings; this I believe to my core. I see it every day.

Many don’t feel that the word ‘creative’ applies to them, but that is not my experience of people. I see creativity in everything we do; from the way that we learn and bend and grow to connect with those around us to the way we dress and hold ourselves, our interests, passions, how we behave in those moments of crises and mending, and the way we see grace and beauty differently.

The beauty of art therapy is that it draws on our innate creativity and desire to ‘know’ oneself. It offers us another way in which to express, explore and understand our ‘self’ through colour, shape and form. And believe it or not, the product at the end is not always the most important part. The process of creating is the most important part. This process generates the opportunity for insight. The medium that is used has a personality all of its own, and it becomes part of the story being expressed. The process nurtures a three dimensional and tactile expression of something that really has no form… our inner world.

As an Art Therapist I have had the privilege to witness and hold space for clients to create into being expressions of their inner world. And just like we are all unique, so is every expression. Through the colour and shapes speak memory and story – pain, joy, loss, and love. Ideas and dreams are layered onto canvases, and those canvases on the walls spark conversation and connection, sometimes between people who have never met before. Memories are bought to the forefront through the creative process, and sometimes a connection to a long-forgotten part of self. Finding a way to create art again when it was thought that changing abilities had robbed life of this pleasure. Granted, the art that is made at this time looks different than how it used to look, but it is no less full of meaning and, in some ways, it is more meaningful. To create art when you know that it will look and feel different to how you remember, requires a letting go of what used to be, and the brave undertaking of embracing the unknown.

For some, pain is transcended in the art therapy process. The immersion into colour, shape, and form, and the intense focus exercised while creating seems quieten the physical pain. And the joy of art making becomes louder and more keenly felt than the physical pain itself.  Emotional pain can also be released; it travels out of the hidden internal world and into a piece of art that is separate from you. The emotional pain is no longer ‘you’ now; it is an ‘it’ that can be explored, understood, nurtured, accepted, and sometimes transformed or let go. For a few blissful moments when the flow of creating takes over, nothing else matters. Pain does not exist.

I have found that spirituality and the ponderings of existence are commonly explored in art therapy. Sometimes, out of the need to question and refine those beliefs, or as a way to connect even more strongly to them. As a witness to these moments, it feels like the art making helps us to find a way to give form and colour to the things in us that seem beyond words. It helps us to discover our own creative language; a language that does not need words.

I am blessed. As an art therapist I get to walk alongside many brave people on their roads of self-expression. Next time you look at a piece of art, take a moment. Really look at it. Soak it up. That piece of art is a gift to you; a glimpse into someone’s rare and precious inner world.

And remember, it took courage for them to put it out there for you to see.


Ruth’s work engages with a variety of BallyCara services, but she is based, primarily, in Residential Care. Read more about BallyCara’s Residential Aged Care services here.




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This post was written by Lachlan Green

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