What is Sensormotor Art Therapy?

From my teacher Cornelia Elbrecht, MA (Art Ed), Art Therapist AThR, SEP
Author of Healing from Trauma at the Clay Field, Healing Trauma with Guided Drawing and Healing Trauma in Children with Clay Field Therapy
In recent years “sensorimotor” has emerged as a term to describe body-focused Psychotherapies that use a bottom-up approach. Instead of a cognitive top-down strategy, sensorimotor art therapy encourages the awareness of innate motor impulses in the muscles and viscera, also as heart rate and breath. The expression of these motor impulses followed by their perception through the senses, allows the development of new neurological pathways that can repair traumatic memories; such an approach is capable of restoring wholeness and wellbeing.

Both Guided Drawing and Work at the Clay Field are sensorimotor, body-focused, trauma-informed art therapy approaches. They are not necessarily concerned with an image-making process but support the awareness of body memories. While these memories are always biographical, the therapy itself is not symptom-oriented. Not the specific problem or crisis becomes the focal point, but the option to new answers and solutions as they are embedded in the body's felt sense. Such sensorimotor achievements are remembered in a similar way to learning how to swim or ride a bike. They are lasting achievements that can transform even early infant developmental set-backs; they assist in finding an active response to traumatic experiences. They allow us to rewrite our biography towards a more authentic, alive sense of self.

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