Art Therapy, Desire and Creativity

Art Therapy, Desire and Creativity

Written by Samantha Davis

As humans we all have needs, urges and desires! Some are healthy and some are not. Some are easy to fulfil, while others are more challenging. Some are urgent, some are risky and some outright dangerous. Learning to manage desire is part of normal human development. 

For me the greatest dangers arise when desire is associated with addiction. Addiction develops when the harmful desires go unchecked and one cannot control or prevent the desire from growing. 

I believe that we all have addictive patterns of behaviour.  Alcohol, drugs, medication, cigarettes, food and sex are the usual suspects, However being addicted to work, sport, exercise, Netflix, computer games, spiritual practice, negativity, being in control, healthy eating, shopping, co-dependent relationships and being a victim are also examples of addiction. Caroline Myss, in Sacred Contracts, questions how much of our lives are consumed by addiction.

I can say, with love and consciousness, that I am addicted to healthy eating. Growing up with a father with Type 1 Diabetes (hence simple plain food and no starch, spices, sauces in the early days), and a mom who was making bran muffins way before they became ‘in’ and who gave us dried fruit as a ‘treat’… was my start to my relationship with food. This could have gone either way, but after decades of research and learning about healthy eating I now follow a plant-based food choice which for me is creative, simple and extremely easy. I actually get really excited by new plant-based healthy recipes, products and plant-based restaurants. 

So why am I sharing this? Not all needs, desires and addictions are simple, easy and healthy. Some are intense, difficult, and painful, lead to impulsive behaviour and are risky. They can be harmful, get out of control and have negative impacts on the self and others around them. I often find that many addictions have a strong familiar underlying feeling attached to them. It’s these addictions that I believe are shouting out to be seen, heard, acknowledged and understood. These feelings are often unknown, unconscious and feel uncomfortable, overwhelming and even scary. 

How does this relate to Art Therapy and creativity?

Okay, so you are craving something – whether it be alcohol, chocolate, sex, pills… close your eyes and ask yourself, ‘What am I feeling?’ Allow a feeling word to arise — maybe sad, lonely, angry, confused, overwhelmed… then ask yourself “Where am I feeling this?” and place your hand on that area of your body that holds most of the sensation. 

Note that there is nothing or no one to fix, solve or rescue here. We are practising noticing and not reacting. We are showing curiosity to ourselves. This is a practice which means that it takes time and practice. Once a feeling is identified and named, take out some paper and pens or art materials. You may wish to first explore and write down what could help to support or manage this feeling. Very often we need an outlet for stored-up feelings such as a friend or therapist to vent to, or exercise and creativity. 

One of my favourite and regular outlets is cold water immersion in the sea. When my whole body including my head is immersed in the cold water – a freshness and a tingling sensation spreads through my system like a refresh button. This is what works for me. Freud calls this ‘sublimation’.

Freud and sublimation

As Freud suggested, sublimation is usually considered a healthy and mature way of dealing with desires and urges that may be undesirable or unacceptable. Rather than act out in ways that may cause harm to the self or to others, sublimation allows us to channel that energy into things that are beneficial.

How do you sublimate desires?

Try any kind of creativity to sublimate your desires. Journaling, painting and drawing, cold water immersion and exercise are just some of the ways that people channel their unwanted feelings and emotions into a more positive and beneficial place.

A Practical Art Therapy Exercise

Draw or paint the feeling. Ask yourself what it looks like in terms of colour, shape, patterns, and size.

Use your imagination and remember there is no right or wrong way to depict a feeling or a sensation. If you don’t know where to start or if this feels difficult to imagine then you are welcome to google it. Seriously! I tried this recently – I was feeling lonely and wanted to make the feeling go away… I remembered to practice what I preach and decided to do some art. Feeling uninspired - I googled ‘How to draw sadness /loneliness’ and I immediately spotted a picture on google that spoke to me… I then drew my interpretation of the picture using art materials that felt relevant – charcoal and coloured chalk. Drawing my version of the picture without worrying about good or bad/right or wrong, enabled the feelings of sadness and loneliness to get drawn out of my body and into the page (excuse the pun)!

Instead of reaching for that drink/chocolate/fix - here is where we can do some work of exploration and reflection – in order to try to build capacity firstly for awareness and insight of our self and our feelings and secondly tolerance of feelings. This can really be a healthy way of noticing, naming, feeling, expressing and embodiment of emotions in order to work with what is coming up and to find an outlet by moving through them. 

Curious about Art Therapy?

✨ Get a taste of Art Therapy in the upcoming 2.5 Hour Taster Workshop.

✨ Join one of the upcoming Art Therapy 3-Day Seminars:

✨ Completed Part 1? Join the next Advanced 3-Day Seminar:

Art Therapy Courses / Workshops in South Africa

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Cape Town)

18-20 March 2024

An introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling. Less intense, lighter, shorter and cheaper than the 5-Day Intensive Course.

Full Fee: R6250

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Johannesburg)

27-29 August 2024  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

An introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling.

Full Fee: R6560 (Early Bird ends 30 Apr 2024)

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Online)

3-5 June 2024  |  3 SPACES LEFT!

CPD points for HPCSA registered professionals.

An ONLINE introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling. Less intense, lighter, shorter and cheaper than the 5-Day Intensive Course.

Full Fee: R5350

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 2 (Cape Town)

April/May 2024  |  7 SPACES LEFT!

*NEW* Advanced Online Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar – after completion of the Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar or the Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive course – this ADVANCED or TOP-UP Seminar is built on previously explored concepts and group experiences.

Full Fee: R6250

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 2 (Online)

June or Sept 2024  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

*NEW* Advanced Online Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar – after completion of the Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar or the Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive course – this ADVANCED or TOP-UP Seminar is built on previously explored concepts and group experiences.

Full Fee: R5350

Learn More

Art Therapy Taster Workshop

Tuesday 14 May 2024  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

Short 2.5 hour online taster session where you can find out about Art Therapy in South Africa as well as have a short hands-on experience of both exploring Art Therapy and gaining awareness of the theories that underlie the practice.

Full Fee: R595

Learn More

Art Therapy Vision Board Workshop (via Zoom)

Run for existing groups upon request  |  10 SPACES LEFT!

A combination of colour, pictures, words and Art Therapy techniques to identify, explore and creatively set goals for 2023. Lay the foundations for the New Year! No art experience required.

Full Fee: R760

Learn More

Art Therapy & Mindfulness Workshop (via Zoom)

2023 TBC

Join the 1-Day Art Therapy & Mindfulness Workshop (via Zoom) to explore and experience the art of being present! Tap into your innate creativity, with a focus on being in the moment, accessing joy, insight, wellness, gratitude, playfulness and having fun through art. No art experience required.

Full Fee: R1695

Learn More

Mandala Workshop (Cape Town)

2024 TBC   |  8 SPACES LEFT!

A Mandala is a Sanskrit word for a ‘sacred’ or ‘magic circle’. Mandalas have been used for centuries in meditative and creative practices. This half day workshop is designed to help you relax and unwind and get into a space of being in the present moment through art, visualization, letting go in order to access a spontaneous, innate creative place within yourself. A real treat!

Full Fee: R980

Learn More

Create - Connect - Reflect Workshop (via Zoom)

Run on request for existing groups  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

We are all trying to manage personal and professional challenges. Each one of us may have experienced significant life changes and or loss – whether it is of a physical, emotional, financial or social nature. We have all been affected by Covid -19 and struggling to get into balance and wellness again. Many of us […]

Full Fee: R580

Learn More

Art as Communication (via Zoom)

2022/2023

(This course runs online for 8 consecutive weeks)

An online experiential art making workshop and exploring of images within a group format, whilst introducing basic Art Therapy theoretical ''concepts''. Various art materials are used as a means of self-expression and communication.

Full Fee: R4650

Learn More

Art Therapy 1-Day Intro Course (via Zoom)

Run for existing groups upon request

This one-day course is aimed at introducing you to the dynamic and exciting process of Art Therapy and how it can be applied to adults and children of all ages. An exciting combination of learning, experiential art-making and questions and answers in a group environment. No art experience required!

Full Fee: R1250

Learn More
Art Therapy for Corporates

Creative Workshops for Corporates

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made for organisations and corporate settings! Various creative interventions available, which encompass a uniquely developed and researched methodology utilizing practical, creative and experiential learning rather than the traditional 'learning from lecture and notes' approach.

Learn More
Art Therapy in Education

Art Therapy Workshops for Educators

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made Art Therapy workshops for groups of educators, art teachers and councillors working in school settings. Choose from a 2 hour mini-workshop or a 1-Day Art Therapy workshop...

Learn More

Art Therapy Courses / Workshops in South Africa

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Cape Town)

18-20 March 2024

An introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling. Less intense, lighter, shorter and cheaper than the 5-Day Intensive Course.

Full Fee: R6250

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Johannesburg)

27-29 August 2024  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

An introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling.

Full Fee: R6560 (Early Bird ends 30 Apr 2024)

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar (Online)

3-5 June 2024  |  3 SPACES LEFT!

CPD points for HPCSA registered professionals.

An ONLINE introduction to the process of Art Therapy including theory, case studies, experiential art making, exploration, sharing daily plus journaling. Less intense, lighter, shorter and cheaper than the 5-Day Intensive Course.

Full Fee: R5350

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 2 (Cape Town)

April/May 2024  |  7 SPACES LEFT!

*NEW* Advanced Online Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar – after completion of the Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar or the Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive course – this ADVANCED or TOP-UP Seminar is built on previously explored concepts and group experiences.

Full Fee: R6250

Learn More

Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar: Part 2 (Online)

June or Sept 2024  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

*NEW* Advanced Online Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar – after completion of the Art Therapy 3-Day Seminar or the Art Therapy 5-Day Intensive course – this ADVANCED or TOP-UP Seminar is built on previously explored concepts and group experiences.

Full Fee: R5350

Learn More

Art Therapy Taster Workshop

Tuesday 14 May 2024  |  5 SPACES LEFT!

Short 2.5 hour online taster session where you can find out about Art Therapy in South Africa as well as have a short hands-on experience of both exploring Art Therapy and gaining awareness of the theories that underlie the practice.

Full Fee: R595

Learn More

Art Therapy Vision Board Workshop (via Zoom)

Run for existing groups upon request  |  10 SPACES LEFT!

A combination of colour, pictures, words and Art Therapy techniques to identify, explore and creatively set goals for 2023. Lay the foundations for the New Year! No art experience required.

Full Fee: R760

Learn More

Art Therapy & Mindfulness Workshop (via Zoom)

2023 TBC

Join the 1-Day Art Therapy & Mindfulness Workshop (via Zoom) to explore and experience the art of being present! Tap into your innate creativity, with a focus on being in the moment, accessing joy, insight, wellness, gratitude, playfulness and having fun through art. No art experience required.

Full Fee: R1695

Learn More

Mandala Workshop (Cape Town)

2024 TBC   |  8 SPACES LEFT!

A Mandala is a Sanskrit word for a ‘sacred’ or ‘magic circle’. Mandalas have been used for centuries in meditative and creative practices. This half day workshop is designed to help you relax and unwind and get into a space of being in the present moment through art, visualization, letting go in order to access a spontaneous, innate creative place within yourself. A real treat!

Full Fee: R980

Learn More

Create - Connect - Reflect Workshop (via Zoom)

Run on request for existing groups  |  6 SPACES LEFT!

We are all trying to manage personal and professional challenges. Each one of us may have experienced significant life changes and or loss – whether it is of a physical, emotional, financial or social nature. We have all been affected by Covid -19 and struggling to get into balance and wellness again. Many of us […]

Full Fee: R580

Learn More

Art as Communication (via Zoom)

2022/2023

(This course runs online for 8 consecutive weeks)

An online experiential art making workshop and exploring of images within a group format, whilst introducing basic Art Therapy theoretical ''concepts''. Various art materials are used as a means of self-expression and communication.

Full Fee: R4650

Learn More

Art Therapy 1-Day Intro Course (via Zoom)

Run for existing groups upon request

This one-day course is aimed at introducing you to the dynamic and exciting process of Art Therapy and how it can be applied to adults and children of all ages. An exciting combination of learning, experiential art-making and questions and answers in a group environment. No art experience required!

Full Fee: R1250

Learn More
Art Therapy for Corporates

Creative Workshops for Corporates

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made for organisations and corporate settings! Various creative interventions available, which encompass a uniquely developed and researched methodology utilizing practical, creative and experiential learning rather than the traditional 'learning from lecture and notes' approach.

Learn More
Art Therapy in Education

Art Therapy Workshops for Educators

Run on request for existing groups

Tailor-made Art Therapy workshops for groups of educators, art teachers and councillors working in school settings. Choose from a 2 hour mini-workshop or a 1-Day Art Therapy workshop...

Learn More