Art-Therapy: Cured by Creativity

Art-therapy is no new thing and yet it is little heard of in Georgia. Through art, people who are talented or not can gain insight into their own unconscious world. The Center of Psychological Aid under the Georgian Patriarchate has existed for 15 years now. Art-therapy is the mainstream, but they also apply to different schools of psychology, trying to help a person in every possible way. GEORGIA TODAY talked to Merab Oniani, one of the beginners of this trend in Georgia.

“My colleague and I studied the German school of art-therapy. Art is very interesting as it gives us a chance to see a lot about a person’s traits and as such it is very informative. This technique enables one to raise adaptive skills and change behavior stereotypes. We basically follow Erikson and Virginia Satir.

“It is often hard to verbalize problems, and the first move towards art as an answer to this came when 19th century doctors observed Tuberculosis patients who preferred to paint rather than talk. When patients were overloaded with emotion, they tried to express it on canvas. By the 1920s the art-therapy direction was already being implemented in all large clinics throughout the US and Europe, and it had very good results.”

How do you guess the natural state of a person’s inner being?

Based on the knowledge of symbols and the nature of colors and lines a person uses, we can tell a lot about their inner state. However, this is not everything. Art helps people to start talking, which is the real key to therapy. Art is only a means. Art-therapy itself is wider and implies the use of all creative skills – music, bibliotherapy, drama-therapy, dancing. Our aim is to free a person from unconscious traumatic feelings. It is based on mobilizing creative potential, self-control and inner mechanisms of curing. Art-therapy provokes positive emotions and helps a patient to overcome apathy and return to an active mode of life, which leads to further development of one’s own intellectual, emotional and personal traits. Art-therapy is knowledge about oneself, a safe means to free oneself from tension. It is a kind of service for people to get in touch with themselves and others, finding an honorable life and combating narrow-minded visions that bring about illness. Participation in the creative process gives individuals extra strength to solve internal and external conflicts, as creative experience boosts new personal skills.

The Center was created by the Catholicos-Patriarch. Does this mean that you also use theology?

Yes. My second profession is theology. One of our main directions is a psychotherapy based on spirituality. This is most commonly applied when we deal with drug-addicts.

What are the main problems in Georgian society?

We are dealing with a wide spectrum of problems, such as neurosis, phobias, family therapy, alcoholism, etc. The problems are increasing and the number of people coming to us is higher. This is probably stipulated by a stressful environment, social background and negative news. A typical Georgian problem is too much attachment between mothers and children to such extent that people become independent very late in life. Abroad, adolescents normally leave the family and start living separately younger, which is paramount to becoming an independent person. This is again attributed to hyper-parental care, which is the same as lack of care, as in both cases we have a person with infantilism and a lack of sense of responsibility. This may lead to unhealthy escapes from reality – to drug-addiction, alcoholism, etc. For each and every person, psychological knowledge is very important. Education is vital and will help us solve such problems.

Do you receive foreigners at the Center?

Yes. There are cases when patients come from neighboring countries. We receive representatives of all confessions. The language of our communication is Russian. However, in case of English-speaking patients, we would happily try to find an interpreter.

Maka Lomadze

Photo: Giorgi Pridonashvili/GT



19 May 2016 20:49