Canada based art therapist, Ashleigh Gureckas, is giving people access to self art therapy by creating detailed how-to videos. These videos allow her viewers to try out art therapy techniques and create the space for themselves to heal through art, all from the comfort of their own homes with almost no cost incurred. This makes Gureckas’ work relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Good Health And Well-Being.

Gureckas is a registered therapeutic counsellor and a professional art therapist. She uses her platform, which has amassed over 20,000 followers on Instagram, to share what art therapy really is. She informs her audiences that, unlike the common misconception that all art-making is a form of art therapy, art therapy is actually an evidence-based therapy technique that often requires the facilitation of certified professionals.

Content shared by Ashleigh Gureckas on the defining traits of art therapy. Image courtesy of @discoverarttherapy/Instagram.

By creating her detailed how-to videos and social media posts, Gureckas hopes to facilitate people from everywhere around the planet to try out her proven art therapy methods. In one post, Gureckas talks about making a large somatic art therapy piece. Citing the works of Peter Levine, Gabor Maté and Bessel Van Der Kolk who stated that trauma is stored within the body, Gureckas explains that large somatic art therapy is all about working with a large canvas to really get bodies to move and release trauma and tensions while making art. In the post, Gureckas can be seen working with chalk to create large circles on a piece of paper that has been taped to the wall, which allows her to create big gestures and move most of her body in order to release tensions and feel better.

In another video, Gureckas explains the art therapy technique of making altered books. This technique, aimed at curing creative blocks, encourages people to create drawings, paintings, or even collages on the pages of an old or thrifted book. Doing so helps relieve the pressure that comes from starting with a blank page, with the pages of the old book serving as a starting point for creative endeavours.

Ashleigh Gureckas shows viewers how to create an altered book. Image courtesy of @discoverarttherapy/Instagram.

By making these art therapy techniques available for free, Gureckas is helping people find ways to forge mental strength at-home for little to no cost. A review published by Frontiers in Public Health found that in Canada, common barriers that prevent people from accessing mental health care include: a shortage of medical professionals, a lack of government oversight, stigma and demographic inequity. With these barriers in mind, without doubt, Gureckas’ art therapy how-to videos help people to find safe and effective therapy alternatives.

Photograph from Kids Art Camp by Ashleigh Gureckas. Image courtesy of @discoverarttherapy/Instagram.

From time to time, Gureckas also does offline activities, including a kids' art therapy camp and in-person art therapy sessions at her studio in downtown Nelson, British Columbia. Ashleigh Gureckas’ dedication to providing accessible art therapy helps to empower individuals to explore their own creativity as tools for mental well-being. By sharing researched and evidence-based techniques such as somatic art therapy and altered book making, Gureckas is breaking down barriers in accessing mental health care and fosters a sense of empowerment and agency within her viewers.

Find out more about Ashleigh Gureckas’ online art therapy and their other initiatives by checking their Instagram on @discoverarttherapy.

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