How art therapy uses the 5 senses and helps to reconnect to the body

In Blog by Celine RedfieldLeave a Comment

the-five-senses-art-therapyWhy is it important to engage the senses? When we use the our five senses we can live a more embodied life. When we live more embodied we can be more anchored in ourselves, in our bodies and live more authentically. It can allow us to experience a range of emotions and release stress and anxiety by externalizing our experiences. In previous posts we have used the senses to understand how to ground  and how to use sensations to develop a language of emotions.  This week we will be talking about how art therapy engages the 4 if your 5 senses:

1)Creating art is a very tacile.

Our sense of touch helps us to interface with the outside world.  We are able to feel our environment, pleasure and pain all from our sense of touch. Art therapy engages the sense of touch through the different tactile qualities of supplies that one uses.

Tactile learning is so helpful in creating new memories, and helping to heal and access the child within. Most of our unresolved emotions and traumas can be accessed through metaphor and tactile learning. By physically expressing one self we can access a different  part of our brain that talking can not access. Tactile quality of creating the artwork, use of metaphor and externalization of feelings creates new neural pathways in the brain that elicit pleasure, relaxation and release.

“We leave traces of ourselves wherever we go, on whatever we touch.”
–  Lewis Thomas
2) Art supplies engage the olfactory

Have you ever opened a new box of crayons? Do memories of your childhood come flooding back to you? Personally I think that a new box of crayons is comforting. Ones sense of smell is capable of bringing up associations, memories and emotions. The use of different supplies in art therapy, elicits various different emotional responses in each person whom uses them. Since our olfactory is so close to our hippocampus, which is where most of our memory resides, smell is very powerful in creating emotions and can help assist in creating corrective experiences.
When art is made new, we are made new with it. We have a sense of solidarity with our own time, and of psychic energies shared and redoubled, which is just about the most satisfying thing that life can offer. ~John Russel

3) Each art supply has a unique sound

Each supply used in art therapy not only has a different feel and smell but each has a unique sound. Some supplies are more like paint are more silent than markers which tend to squeak against the paper. Each different supply creates a different experience for the one who is using it. Some supplies can create a sense of ease and joy, while others can create repulsion. The use of specific music in art therapy can also create a different experience. When I work with clients I tend to use music that is soothing to elicit the relaxation response.

“Think with the whole body.” ~Taisen Deshima
4) Engaging the sense of sight

This sense is the one that we use the most and most likely have the strongest relationship with. We rely heavily on this sense. So how can is it used in art therapy? Using the sense of sight in art therapy occurs while creating a piece of art work. And then afterwards when the therapist and client are processing the piece of work. It allows the therapist and client to talk about the piece and find new possibilities for healing, resolution of symptoms and old thought patterns. When people create a piece they visually do not like they can have the opportunity to see how they can change the image which will help them in their own lives out of the art therapy room.

Art communicates through the senses – a chef through taste and smell, a musician through sound, and a visual artist through sight. But they all have one thing in common – they all lead directly to the heart. ~Andrew Hamilton

What senses do you connect with the most? Comment below. Do you want help connecting with your senses more and become more grounded through art therapy? Please feel free to contact me to set up and appointment or a 15-minute free consultation :

Have a blessed week.


Celine's Signature




Image: 5 Senses Swirl by Mads Berg

Leave a Comment