Dr Laura Hutchison
Using Spin Art in Play Therapy
SPIN ART and PLAY THERAPY are two of my favorite things. I was so happy when I started using spin art in session and realized what a great technique it could be therapeutically.
My clients came up with amazing metaphors while working with this medium. The statements have been all deeply personal and applied directly to their individual therapeutic issues … but also universal.
“It turned out much different than I expected.”
“If I don’t like how it turns out I can keep changing it until I do.”
“It looks cooler with the more that I add to it.”
“The different layers that are added make the overall picture change.”
“Each one is different. That’s what makes them special.”
“There’s so much … it can’t all stay on the page. It overflows.”
“It looks like arms reaching out and connecting with others.”
In the creating of the art I noticed that clients relaxed, calmed, and had a centered focus. Watching the paint spin around and change has a somewhat hypnotic aspect to it. It reminded me of the little I know about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
I believe it is also helpful because it allows clients to talk with making eye contact but still feel connected with me. I know that research states that children feel more at ease to talk when they aren’t forced into look people in the eye. Conversations flowed smoothly during the process of creating.
Another wonderful thing about spin art is that it is virtually impossible to make a mistake. Each painting comes out as a unique piece of art. This helps kids who have difficulty being “artistic” in other ways get some confidence in their ability to be creative. Additionally, it can help perfectionistic people work on just letting it go and seeing how it turns out without having complete control over the outcome.
I also tried using spin art as a more directive activity where I assigned a different feeling to each of the different paint colors and as they used those paints I asked them to share a time they felt that particular emotion. Another time I told them with each paint they used they needed to share something that happened since the last time we had a session … or something that bothers them about their family … or how things are different since their parents got at divorce … etc. It turned out to be a great way to get kids talking.
I have also used the technique in a family session. Each family member took a turn adding a paint color to the work in progress. During creating the art we discussed how everyone “adds something” to the family. I also gave feedback to the family when I observed power struggles and negative feedback to others. The process turned into an easy metaphor of the same things that occur with the family at home.
Utilizing spin art, and other creative techniques at home can be a great way to self-regulate due to the sensory nature of this medium.