Sensorimotor Art Therapy

What is Sensorimotor Art Therapy?

Talk therapies (ie. CBT, DBT etc.) and some art therapy interventions are known as therapies which have a top-down approach. A top-down art therapy intervention focuses on intentionally making an image and then discussing the client’s image.  Much of the work is done via the conscious mind.

Therapies which have a bottom-up approach focus on the body (ie. gestalt therapy, somatic experiencing, sensorimotor art therapy).  These therapies are often used for client’s who have experienced trauma.  Sensorimotor art therapy can enable the client to move beyond having a fight, flight or freeze response.  The client is supported by the therapist to have an active response to memories of past experiences. This new response continues to influence a client’s perception of themself and how they respond to situations after the therapy session, as new body memories replace the old body memories.

The sensorimotor art therapy interventions known as clay field and guided drawing are bottom-up approaches in which the therapist not only observes what the client is making but also how the hands move, the sensations they are experiencing and the thoughts that are simultaneously arising.  It is not necessary for the client to talk about the past. This can often be too traumatic for the individual. This makes sensorimotor art therapy an ideal therapy for attachment issues, developmental setbacks, PTSD, anxiety and trauma.  Sensorimotor art therapy is also used to address: grief, anxiety, depression and other mental health diagnoses.