Saher Ali explains what her art therapy entails, and focus is on connecting with one’s inner self  

Healing with paint
Art therapy
Art therapy

That art has the power to touch, encourage and inspire lives is old news. But what if we told you that your creativity helps express your deepest, inner self, and allows you to connect with your body and mind, sensorily, enough to heal you? Hyderabad-based Saher Ali, a holistic psychologist and Gestalt master practitioner, chanced upon art therapy and there has been no looking back since.

Explaining what art therapy is, she says, it’s a one-of-its-kind session that combines the principles of Gestalt and art therapies. “It is not a test of one’s artistic ability or creative talent. The focus lies purely on the process of connecting with yourself through art. When I first tried that on myself, I saw how it changed my perspectives drastically, firsthand,” says she.

Saher shares that one of the biggest advantages of using art therapy has been the elimination of stigma around the word ‘counselling’. “People are yet to cosy up to psychologists and therapies — even my counselling centre is called a ‘studio’ just to encourage clients to walk in and feel welcome. Once people learnt that I was using art as a medium in my practice — individual and workshop sessions — my clients have doubled,” she shares.

Art therapy has innumerable benefits — from enhancing creativity and helping the process of de-stressing to establishing a mind-body connection through a heightened sense of self-awareness and sensorily connecting with your own breath. Saher says the same can be achieved through different ways like gardening, singing, dancing and more — it’s just that she ‘chose’ to heal with paints.

Speaking about how the focus lies on the process and not the product, she says, “It’s all about the here and the now — when connecting with your inner self, your anxiety automatically comes down. It’s all boils down to how you facilitate that process. And it’s important, because sometimes, art brings out what one cannot verbalise, it becomes evident only through their work. This is one of the biggest plus points of the therapy — that people get to project their subconscious feelings onto whatever is their canvas.” She, who is currently practising individual and family counselling at her Totum Art Studio, is also a counselling psychologist at Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad and at Stork Home, Fer nande z Hospital.

Saher is a firm believer that psychotherapy is not independent of alternative forms of healing and enjoys her eclectic approach to counselling. Sharing how art speaks, she says, “Many have, more often than not, used the colour brown to depict work, pink for kids. Lighter hues for joyful moods and darker ones for their deepest emotions.”

The therapist observed how the pandemic has, in some way or the other, pushed people to be more open about their feelings. She, who has clients in both the Telugu states, Bengaluru and the United States and Canada, will soon be hosting an online session of Art Therapy on July 2, 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Through the session, one will concentrate on getting grounded, and congruent, while learning how to centre, and gain clarity and congruence within their personality  

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