Art therapy

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that encourages students to explore various problems through the means of creative self-expression. Using modalities such as painting, drawing, sculpture, various forms of art media and more, art therapy is designed to help improve a person’s wellbeing and overall general functioning. Art therapy contains several therapeutic benefits for individuals who have experienced trauma, physical illness, mental illness, or other psychological health problems.

The History of Art Therapy

Art has been used throughout history as a means of communication and self-expression and can be found in a wide-range of cultures. Art therapy however, only became popular in very recent history. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that art therapy spread throughout the US and Europe. The term “art therapy” was thought up in 1942 after British artist Adrian Hill discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis.

Who Can Benefit from Art Therapy?

Art therapy is beneficial for several different conditions and is used by a wide-range of people around the world. It is frequently practiced by psychologists, in addiction rehabilitation centres, hospitals, medical clinics, schools, crisis centres, and more.

It is used for a variety of different patients, especially those who have been through trauma and abuse that has resulted in various conditions. Some of these conditions include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder)
  • Addiction
  • Substance Abuse
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia)
  • Relationship problems
  • Aging issues
  • Cognitive impairments

What Are the Benefits?

Art therapy contains several benefits. Some of these include:

  • Resolving inner conflict
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving relationships
  • Managing problem behaviours
  • Gaining personal insight

Art therapy also offers the opportunity for creative self-expression and a chance for patients to engage in activities that invoke feelings of pleasure and positivity.

Types of Art-based Treatment

There are several different techniques and types of art therapy. An art therapist will offer various mediums depending on what they feel is most beneficial for a patient’s individual needs. Types of art therapy include:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Collage
  • Sculpture
  • Finger painting
  • Scribbling
  • Making Pottery
  • Carving

How It Works?

Art therapy is a two-part process. The first involves making the actual piece of art itself. The second part involves discovering the meaning behind what was created. People who undergo art therapy are urged to visualize and then create the emotions and feelings they can’t or won’t talk about.

The artwork a patient creates is then analysed and interpreted by them in a discussion with their counsellor or therapist. This analysis allows a patient to gain deeper insight to their feelings and then work through them. Art therapy is very patient-centred in that it relies on the interpretation of the individual rather than the ideas of the therapist.

Is Art Therapy Right for You?

Art therapy can be extremely beneficial for many different conditions. Whether considering treatment for addiction or going through therapy to overcome depression and anxiety, art therapy can become a valuable aspect of your treatment programme. If you or a loved one are experiencing psychological impairment, tapping into your artistic nature through art therapy can be of major therapeutic benefit.

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