As human beings, we face a lot of obstacles in many areas of our lives. This can make our time on this earth very challenging. I believe, however, that we must endure these challenges head-on to prepare us for greatness. This balance of ups and downs creates a beautiful journey that, once we overcome, helps us discover our true purpose. Through facing my life experiences, I was able to discover my passion for art therapy. I found a love for using artistic expression as a way to help young people. I've been able to use creative methods that helped me hear and see the youth through their eyes. By using art therapy, I was able to create a space for young people to explore their social, emotional, and behavioral skills.
Art therapy is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and their personalities. The beauty of Art speaks on many levels and it gives my clients space for self-discovery. I’ve had the privilege of seeing my clients evolve through some of the toughest of circumstances, especially in the criminal justice world. I’ve worked with youth who have committed some of the most heinous crimes and then witness them seeking redemption through their artwork. This artistic approach has also empowered the parents of the incarcerated youth and even encouraged them to set life goals, despite their current circumstances.
As a youth Social Worker, having a therapeutic alliance is very important but, allowing a safe space for clients to articulate their journey, is my goal. I am dedicated to offering an integrative approach to meet the unique needs of each individual while offering a creative avenue to self-discovery, self-expression, and healing. I have seen much success using these creative methods with those dealing with PTSD, chemical dependency, criminal background, and dual diagnoses. My clients experience a nurturing, safe, and secluded environment. I am intentional about, relatability by speaking their language and sharing similar life experiences. Each client is different whether it is race, gender, age, or orientation; either way, we work together to uncover untapped artistic skills throughout our conversation. My clients are surprised to see what they can produce through art. It’s quite remarkable, revealing a child’s inner self and having a tangible piece of art that depicts our discussion. This technique helps adolescents improve emotional health, manage addictions, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also help them cope with physical illness or disability. My sessions create a moment of self-realization and a lasting impact from what they’ve experienced. I can say with confidence, I know my clients will never forget the work we have accomplished together. Don't get me wrong, it's a process and it requires a high level of patience, but it has been worth every second.
The American Art Therapy Association has even stated that clinicians who incorporate art therapy are trained to understand the roles that color, texture, and various art media can play in the therapeutic process. They also help reveal one’s thoughts, feelings, and psychological disposition. Art therapy integrates psychotherapy and some form of visual arts as a specific, stand-alone, form of therapy; but it is also used in combination with other types of therapy, such as behavioral therapy. Simply put, the results have proven that Art therapy works.
During my childhood, I had many challenging experiences; now looking back, I see the gaps in my life and I have learned so much. If there is one thing I can say to encourage the younger generation, it would be to not walk through life alone. Allow someone you trust to walk through those tough times with you. I know this isn't easy and a young person may want to be resistant. It's difficult to articulate your feelings and even more uncomfortable to be transparent. That is why it is important for me to help the next generation so they have an advantage and encourage them through creative ways that will help them ignite their own passion. I am Aisha Alexis and I am a young, black, and dedicated Social Worker. I will always see the beauty in incorporating art therapy to my community; because art is my life and life is a beautiful work of art.
Guest Blogger: Aisha Yvonne Alexis
Creative Arts Therapist
Aisha specializes in art therapy with a passion to teach and empower youth and families to move in the direction they truly desire. She is a driven leader with a focus on coaching, motivating, and mentoring youth towards a better future. As a Fall semester Doctoral student of Social Work, professor assistant in a Bachelors level Social Work department in a CUNY college and 5+ years of experience, she has pioneered continuous educational, personal, and social adjustment methods while counseling youth and families. In affiliation with many Social Workers associations, she is a strong advocate for policy change and cultural awareness for society. Aisha is also connected with pivotal urban community organizations; her collaboration with community leaders play an instrumental role in developing and implementing initiatives for improving the lives of families.