Sign language can be a useful tool in art therapy. There are many people who are deaf and desire or need art therapy. It is possible to hire a translator to interpret during art therapy sessions, but by doing this the client’s art therapy sessions become less intimate. By adding an interpreter, the art therapy sessions would have four elements instead of three: the art therapist, the client, the artwork, and now the interpreter. It is already hard to confide in and trust an art therapist, and adding an interpreter into the sessions may make it even harder for the client to do so. For this reason, I have been learning American Sign Language during the summer.
American Sign Language(ASL) is beautiful language; instead of telling a story word for word, it presents and almost performs it. When expressing a thought in ASL, you do not sign each word in the exact order as it would be said in English. Instead you sign the most important aspect of your thought and then describe it. For example I am currently learning how to sign the children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. When signing the first page of the story which reads, “In the moon light, lay a tiny egg on a leaf,” I sign “leaf” then describe a tiny egg and place it on the leaf. Then I look up towards were a moon would be, sign “moonlight”, and have my hand follow the path of the moonlight until it reaches the tiny egg on the leaf.
This form of expression creates the scene of the story, rather than telling the story word for word. My ASL instructor says, “You must first envision the scene in your mind, and then describe it.” Because ASL is a visual language, you have to imagine your thought and then describe the scene visually. I believe ASL is a beautiful language because it does more than tell a story, it presents and visualizes it. I enjoy learning American Sign language and will definitely incorporate it in my career as an art therapist. It should prove to be a useful tool in art therapy.