What Is Art Therapy?

We all know that creating art can be a relaxing, inspiring, and enjoyable activity. What we are perhaps less aware of, is its far-reaching therapeutic benefits.

Art therapy is a valuable tool in treating depression, anxiety, and trauma. For many people, talking about their feelings is difficult or uncomfortable and for them, art therapy can help offer a relief.

What is art therapy?
Art therapy involves using various forms of visual arts in a therapeutic context. Art therapists utilise the process of making art to help their clients identify and express feelings in a safe and supportive environment. There is less emphasis on verbal communication, but clients are assisted in developing the vocabulary to communicate their feelings. The focus is on the creative process, rather than the final product. Art therapy encourages clients to be kind and non-judging of their creations.

Benefits of Art therapy:
Art therapy is an alternate to more traditional mental health talking therapies that focus predominantly on left brain communication. Our left brain is analytical and verbal, whereas our right brain is creative and non-verbal.

Art therapy supports the process of accessing, communicating and integrating emotional experiences that are stored in our right brain.

Furthermore, art therapy encourages self-discovery, by highlighting subconscious emotions. The art therapist can help a client access these thoughts, bringing them to a place where they can be spoken about more easily.

Art therapy boosts self-esteem and self-acceptance. Parents of children with low self-esteem and aggression, who partook in a study using art therapy, reported having happier, more confident and socially aware children at the end of the study. The children reported enjoying the opportunity to meet new people and felt more confident after the study.

Creating art stimulates the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that influences our mood and feelings of reward and motivation. Therefore, art therapy is useful for treating low mood and anxiety.

Finally, art therapy can be conducted in a group. Group therapy encourages openness and the normalising of our shared experiences. The group setting promotes compassion, it strengthens relationships, and provides a place of belonging and community. Group art therapy sessions can be arranged to facilitate team building and corporate wellness or simply to bond with family and friends.

Contact reception to arrange a group or individual art therapy session and get your creative juices flowing!

References:

Coholic, D. A. (2011). Exploring the feasibility and benefits of arts-based mindfulness-based practices with young people in need: Aiming to improve aspects of self-awareness and resilience. Child & Youth Care Forum, 40(4), 303-317. doi:10.1007/s10566-010-9139-x

Hinchey, L. M. (2018). “Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy: A Review of the Literature.” Inquiries Journal, 10(05). Retrieved from http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=1737

Uttley L, Scope A, Stevenson M, et al. Systematic review and economic modelling of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of art therapy among people with non-psychotic mental health disorders. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2015 Mar. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 19.18.) Chapter 2, Clinical effectiveness of art therapy: quantitative systematic review. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279641/

Zaidel D. W. (2014). Creativity, brain, and art: biological and neurological considerations. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, 389. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00389

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