Art therapy is a way to help people express themselves through making art, like painting, drawing, or sculpting. It helps by giving someone a safe place to show their feelings and helps them feel more in control of their life.
In the same way a painting or a song can express things hard to put into words, art therapy gives people with physical, emotional, or thinking challenges new ways to understand and share their thoughts and feelings.
Moreover, you don’t need to be an artist or really skilled at art to get something out of art therapy. This kind of therapy isn’t just a regular art class or a way to keep busy. Instead, art therapy uses the power of art and different ways of communicating to help people open up and connect with their therapy in new ways. This can really help with healing of all sorts.
Keep on reading to find out more about art therapy and other creative therapies that can help people who are dealing with mental health problems.
What is art therapy?
The American Art Therapy Association explains that art therapy is a special kind of therapy. It combines taking care of mental health with human services by using art creation, the creative process, and applying ideas from psychology based on human experiences.
In these sessions, trained and licensed professionals who know both therapy and art work with people. These sessions are good for everyone, no matter their age. Art therapy can be part of one-on-one meetings, group therapy, and even counseling for families or couples.
Furthermore, one big goal of art therapy is to make people’s lives better. It can help to improve or restore someone’s ability to function. Art therapy happens in places like schools, hospitals, places for rehabilitation, private offices, and mental health centers.
How does it work?
Anyone who makes art, whether they see themselves as an artist or not, is exploring themselves. This gives them a safe place to share their feelings and helps them feel more in control of their lives. Making art is fun, but that’s not the only thing that happens in an art therapy session.
In an art therapy session, a person might do activities like:
- Finger painting
- Working with clay
- Doodling and scribbling
- Making collages
Even though an art therapist guides these activities, what the person makes is their own honest reaction. Understanding this can help with mental health and happiness.
To better understand these artworks, the person and their art therapist will talk about them. They will look at what things, people, and images are there and what’s missing.
Art has always been a big part of human life for thousands of years. But, the idea of using art as therapy started not too long ago. It was first talked about in the 1940s by an artist from the United Kingdom.
Important people in this field came from different areas like teaching, making visual art, and psychotherapy. A key person in art therapy, Margaret Naumburg, was inspired by early psychoanalysis theories in the early 20th century. She thought that when people create art, they show hidden thoughts and feelings that they might have kept inside.
She believed that if people talked about their art with a therapist, they could understand what their art was telling them about themselves. This understanding could then help them heal mentally. Her ideas are still really important today.
Who Art Therapy Helps
The group that gives out art therapy qualifications says that art therapy can be good for:
- People who have gone through tough times, like being in a war or surviving a natural disaster.
- People with big health issues, like brain injuries or cancer.
- People with certain problems like feeling very sad, having autism, or memory loss.
Art therapy can make people with pain feel less stressed and worried. Also, experts think it’s helpful for people with other problems, like:
- Worrying too much.
- Eating problems, when used with other usual treatments.
- Using drugs or alcohol too much.
- Being really stressed.
Those who practice art therapy say it can also help people get better at:
- Solving conflicts.
- Being social.
- Handling stress.
- Controlling their actions.
- Understanding themselves better.
Studies show that art therapy can really help kids who are dealing with things like:
- Bad experiences from their childhood.
- Disabilities or needing special help in school.
- Getting in trouble with the law as a young person.
- Long-term breathing problems like asthma.
Art therapy is also good for kids who might not have just one big problem, but are facing several tough situations in their lives.
Different Types of Creative Therapies
Art isn’t the only creative way to help people heal.
Here are some other creative therapies:
- Listening to music
- Writing songs and lyrics
- Performing music
Music therapy helps people with mental health issues, injuries, Alzheimer’s, and more. It can even be helpful for pregnant women during labor.
This therapy uses dance and body movement to understand and help with a person’s problems.
Drama therapy helps people share their feelings and get better at interacting with others. This is done through storytelling and acting things out on the spot.
This therapy uses writing, like keeping a diary or telling stories, to help with healing.
This is when different kinds of art, like dance, drama, music, and movement, are used in therapy.
A study found that adding dance, drama, music, and movement to therapy for people with dementia helped them communicate better, get more involved, and enjoy things more.
Art therapy is a type of healing that uses art to bring out a person’s deepest thoughts and feelings. The people who do this therapy are trained in both art and therapy.
This therapy is for everyone, no matter their age, even if they don’t think they’re good at art. Studies show it can be useful for many problems, like eating disorders and dealing with bad experiences.
For those who don’t find regular therapy helpful or easy, art therapy techniques could be a great choice to add to their treatment.
Related topic: EMDR – A Powerful Therapy to Boost Your Self-Esteem