For over sixty years, art therapy has been used in a range of treatment programs to assist people that need help expressing their feelings. Art therapy gives troubled individuals an opportunity to let out what troubles them using paints, clay, chalk – any form of creative visual representation. This is a restorative process that eases mental stress, stabilizes the mind, and allows people to process traumatic experiences.
Art therapy isn’t just for people who’ve gone through tragedy, though. It can be beneficial to anyone who needs to deal with tension and stress. It’s even a useful therapeutic tool for people who struggle with learning disabilities and other psychological disorders.
When executed properly with the right kind of supervision, art therapy can have a transformative effect. Sculpting, taking photographs, drawing, painting, and other forms of artistic expression enable people to explore thoughts and feelings that they otherwise have difficulty facing. It’s often a powerfully healing experience for patients that go through it.
The media listed so far are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to art therapy. Under the wider banner of “creative therapy,” the visual arts have often been joined by drama, writing, music, dance, and virtually every other form of creative expression. Movement and music therapy, for example, involves expressing one’s feelings through deliberate motion set to accompanying music. It’s all a matter of finding the medium that really suits the patient. When given access to the materials and opportunities they need, people suffering from real psychological issues have the ability to communicate their problems — and deal with them — in a way that would otherwise be impossible. Patients can use art to reveal things about themselves that they would never confide through standard verbal psychotherapy. This mode of therapy is helpful for disabled patients who don’t have the ability to engage in a conventional back-and-forth conversation. Art therapy is even useful in dealing with the psychological fallout attached to terminal medical conditions like HIV or cancer.
There are many groups that can benefit from art therapy. It makes an excellent fit with teenagers who are suffering from considerable mental stress, for example. Children around high school age are famously hesitant to share their feelings and concerns with adults, which can make it difficult to give them the help they need. By expressing themselves through art, teenagers have an opportunity to share their feelings and relieve themselves of considerable psychological burdens. Most teens who engage in art therapy find the experience helpful, and their ability to learn tends to improve after a course of treatment.
A therapeutic process that employs art as a key medium for self-expression allows you to discover your true desires and fears. It becomes much easier to address your emotional and psychological challenges when you have a clear understanding of them. Art therapy is highly beneficial for those who suffer from potentially debilitating psychological conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. It also has a generally positive effect on your overall mental and emotional health. Whether you need to process feelings following a traumatic experience, learn to manage your psychological issues, or simply do a better job of managing stress, art therapy can help.