Art Therapy and Art as Healing
.Art therapy involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, or collage to help people express themselves artistically. Art therapy helps children, adolescents, and adults explore their emotions, improve self-esteem, manage addictions, relieve stress, improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cope with a physical illness or disability. Art therapy is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking deeper understanding of themselves.
Art therapists are trained to understand the roles that color, texture, and various art media can play in the therapeutic process and how these tools can help reveal one’s thoughts, feelings, and psychological disposition. Art therapy integrates psychotherapy and visual arts as a stand-alone form of therapy, but it is also used in combination with other types of therapy.
Art therapy uses simple art activities to help people express themselves and develop a sense of well-being through the creative process. Expressing oneself through a drawing, painting or collage makes our thoughts, feelings, and ideas tangible and communicates what we sometimes cannot say with words alone. Through working with art materials, learning new skills, and developing ideas through visual media, often people feel a sense of self-satisfaction, personal achievement, and accomplishment.
Art therapy offers creative activities to help reduce stress and anxiety, lessen pain, and empower people to express their feelings and experiences. Creative expression has been shown to naturally calm the body, reduce blood pressure, and even release chemicals in the brain that decrease depression.
Expressing thoughts and feelings through art can improve one's outlook and mood, but more importantly, it helps us to communicate our experiences of trauma, grief, and loss. Art therapy can provide you with another mode of communication of feelings, thoughts and experiences and can help you to use your own creativity to increase your sense of empowerment and well-being.
Excerpted from C. Malchiodi and AATA