What comes to mind immediately when we first hear the word art therapy? What does art therapy mean? Why has art therapy gained popularity in recent times? We shall discuss all of it here.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy is an expressive therapy that can be availed by people of any age group and condition. Art therapy involves an individual making any form of art using any medium which their art therapist observes and scrutinizes in order to find out about their present mental and emotional state and then gives the requisite suggestion or advice for them to get better. Art therapy as a form of treatment first came into play in the 1940s, and today, it is a widely used method for complete holistic development and well-being of an individual. Art therapy is well-known for its effectiveness when it comes to treating people with mental illnesses, anxiety, depression, PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), bipolar disorder, insomnia, and numerous other issues which keep bugging people due to the hustle of our hectic daily lives, the pressure of work and stress due to issues in our personal lives.
What are the types of therapies where people can unleash their creative and imaginative side and express themselves for who they truly are? There are several expressive therapies which include:
- Dance therapy
- Drama therapy
- Music therapy
- Writing therapy
There are numerous people who are not completely comfortable expressing their emotions and shy away from showing their true selves to the world. There are also many who are not able to express themselves completely through words or conversations alone and do not respond to either verbal or non-verbal cues due to cognitive problems or mental health issues. For many of these individuals, expressing themselves and their true feelings through creative ventures like art or writing is the only way out. Does the person undergoing art therapy need to be creatively gifted or a practicing artist in order to take part in the program and heal? Absolutely not! Any individual from any background, any social strata can participate in art therapy programs and sessions, and need not be an artist or even an artistic person, as such. Each and every individual who is seeking help can reap the benefits of art therapy.
The job of an art therapist is certainly not an easy one – it involves observing the individuals (who are undergoing therapy) while they are making the artworks, scrutinizing and understanding the intentions behind the art, the meaning of the artwork. Then, once they are able to understand what the artwork signifies, what the state of mind of the individual is, they can suggest the appropriate treatment methods for that particular individual. A professional art therapist needs to be a master’s degree holder to the least and today, there are several platforms that teach art therapy and on completion of the courses, provide someone the requisite qualifications to become a professional art therapist.
Types of art in art therapy
What are the different art forms that an individual can create while undergoing art therapy? We shall discuss the art types that an individual usually can create during art therapy.
Usually, the person undergoing art therapy can create collages out of paper or any other material, use crayons to fill up coloring books (this can prove to be a very therapeutic activity), can doodle and scribble using pencil, pen, or any other medium on paper, and draw anything that they like, anything that comes to mind. When it comes to painting, there can be different forms of painting – there is finger painting, usually done with acrylics, which is fun and relaxing at the same time, there is traditional painting (with the help of a paintbrush) done on canvas, cloth or paper. Then there is the option of working with clay, sculpting and carving new shapes out of it. For some, even photography is quite therapeutic and can be considered to be a form of art therapy.
Benefits of art therapy
Why should an individual opt for art therapy in the first place? What are the benefits of art therapy? Let us discuss them here:
1. Art therapy helps an individual express themselves – to the fullest: Art therapy paves the way for a person’s self-expression – through the art that they create.
2. Art therapy helps an individual develop self-awareness: Discovering oneself through art therapy and thus, embarking on the journey of self-awareness and self-discovery can be one of the best journeys in a person’s life.
3. Art therapy helps individuals manage stress: The stress of our day-to-day lives can be managed easily with the help of art therapy.
4. Art therapy boosts an individual’s self-esteem: An individual’s self-confidence is enhanced with the help of art therapy.
5. Art therapy helps people who suffer from issues with their mental health: There can be numerous issues like anxiety, depression among others – all of which can be reduced considerably with the help of art therapy.
6. Art therapy enables individuals to work on their social skills: Making art is all about expressing who you are and enabling your way of communication with the world. No wonder, your social skills are improved considerably with the help of art therapy.
7. Art therapy helps let go of childhood trauma if any: Deep-rooted childhood trauma, episodic depression, and other issues that it may bring are all eradicated by art therapy.
8. Art therapy helps people with disabilities and illnesses: For people with disabilities, special educational needs, or illnesses such as chronic asthma which has been affecting them since childhood, art therapy is nothing short of a blessing since it helps them in several ways when it comes to creative release, and feeling good about themselves and their abilities.
Art therapy as a profession is gaining widespread popularity in the present times and many people are opting for online courses that teach art therapy. The number of people who have benefitted from art therapy is also considerable, and this has certainly helped in the word-of-mouth promotion of art therapy. In case you were looking for insights on art therapy, we hope you find this article helpful enough.