Art Therapy, also known as expressive art or art psychology, is a form of therapy that encourages creativity and self-expression to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, increase awareness, and help remedy trauma. It is a form of therapeutic practice which uses art in order to deal with emotions and issues. It empowers the user through the use of art and creativity. It is based on the premise that visual symbols and images are the most accessible and natural form of communication to the human experience.
The benefits of Art Therapy include:
- Personal Discovery
At its most successful, Art Therapy triggers an emotional catharsis (a sense of relief and wellbeing through the recognition and acknowledgement of subconscious feelings). Art Therapy can provide a forum to express strengths and genuineness.
- Sense of Fulfilment
The creation of a tangible reward can build confidence and nurture feelings of self-worth. Personal fulfilment comes from both the creative and the analytical components of the process – through viewing one’s own creation, one can improve the skill of self-observation.
- Increased Self-Confidence
Art Therapy can help individuals visually express emotions and fears that they were never able to articulate through conventional means, and give them some sense of control over these feelings. What cannot be said with words – may be more easily expressed through the art.
- Relaxation and Stress Relief
Chronic stress can be harmful to both mind and body. It can weaken and damage your immune system, cause insomnia and depression, and trigger a host of circulatory problems. When used alone or in combination with other relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery, Art Therapy can be a potent mental stress reliever. Art making provides an experience which is stress & anxiety reducing, relaxing, and decreases unfounded worries.
- Symptom Relief and Physical Rehabilitation
Art Therapy can also help individuals cope with pain, and promotes physiological healing by identifying and working through anger and resentment issues.
How can Art Therapy Benefit People with Stress?
Art Therapy is a wonderful way of releasing stored up stress and anger. Not only can you tap into and release past hurts, but you can also let go of current stressful situations. While sometimes people can speak about their thoughts and feelings very well, this is not always easy for lots of reasons: particularly if they are experiencing depressive symptoms such as low mood, self-esteem and confidence.
A person may be feeling isolated and not feel much like talking to other people about their feelings. When feeling like this it can be challenging to find a way to communicate with others. It may be that there are no words to accurately describe how you are. People can find that no matter how much they talk about their feelings it does not appear to help and they need other ways to help express them more fully. They may be emotionally disconnected from what they are saying and need a bridge to help them to reconnect.
Can Art Therapy Help in Self-Expression?
Art Therapy can benefit people in the above situations by providing a bridge between their inner thoughts and feelings, as well as enhance communication with others. Most often, clients in Art Therapy sessions comment that without creating a piece of art first in a session, they would find it difficult to talk directly about their situation. The client can communicate using the art work to explain. The art work helps to open up communication and increase self-awareness.
Who Can Benefit from Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, forensic, wellness, private practice and community settings with diverse client populations. You can benefit as an individual, couple, family, and in group therapy formats. Art Therapy is an effective treatment for people experiencing developmental, medical, educational, social or psychological impairments, and different types of mental stress.
Why Can Prompt You to Seek Art Therapy?
You can benefit from art therapy if you have survived trauma resulting from combat, abuse, and natural disaster; persons with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other health disability; and persons with autism, dementia, depression, and other disorders. Art Therapy helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviours, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art Therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life affirming pleasures of art making.
Where Can I Receive Art Therapy?
Currently, Art Therapy is widely practiced in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centres, forensic institutions, schools, crisis centres, senior communities, private practice, and other clinical and community settings.
During individual and/or group sessions Art Therapists elicit their clients’ inherent capacity for art making to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Research supports the use of Art Therapy within a professional relationship for the therapeutic benefits gained through artistic self-expression and reflection, for individuals who experience illness, trauma, mental health problems, and those seeking personal growth.
Art Therapy appears to be a great approach for tackling mental stress which can potentially put you at an increased risk of major and chronic conditions. It is a less invasive but yet effective way in addressing psychiatric issues in comparison to medication.
Kelly Everson is an American author with an MA in English literature. After spending time as a writer in some of the Health Industry’s best websites, she now works as an independent researcher and contributor for health news related websites like Consumer Health Digest. In her spare time, she does research work regarding Skincare Science and Women’s Health, Fitness and overall Health Issues. These acts as a fuel for her passion of writing. When she is not researching or writing, you can find Kelly staying active, whether it be practicing yoga or taking swimming classes. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Photographer: Semra Sevin
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