When noted British artist Adrian Hill was convalescing from tuberculosis, he discovered how therapeutic painting was to him. His mind and body were so engrossed while painting, that he for a while forgot about the illness that had weakened his body. He described it as “completely engrossing the mind (as well as the fingers)…..realizing the creative energy of the frequently inhibited patients which enables the patient to build up a strong defense against his misfortunes” .Hill found it so beneficial that he suggested art work while recovering to his fellow patients. Thus began his Art Therapy work which was documented in 1945 in his books. He is credited with coining the term Art Therapy
So, what is Art therapy? “Art therapy can be explained as a mental health profession, wherein clients with the help of an Art therapist express themselves using artwork to understand their feelings, solve any emotional conflicts, manage certain behavior and addictions, polish social skills, reduce anxiety and increase self esteem. The goal of Art therapy is to foster a sense of personal well being and can be expressed through any art form be it painting, sketching, sculpting etc. In short, Art therapy aims at promoting physical as well as psychological well being of an individual.
Art therapists are usually trained in both art and therapy and use art in treating, assessing and for the purpose of research. The main advantage of Art therapy is that it works with all age groups and can be conducted at the community level or at a family level or just as a couple or individually. Also there is no restriction in the settings where Art therapy can be conducted. It can happen at a medical or wellness centre, schools or at independent practices.
In a world where there are multiple forms of therapy to cater to every need Art therapy stands apart due to its unique nature. The main difference between art therapy and conventional talk therapy is that there are no boundaries like words or language which restrict expression but emotions are allowed to free flow freely using any medium be it drawing, sketching ,sculpting or photography.
The uses of Art Therapy are many. It has been found very useful in treating kids with PTSD, recovery from eating disorders, helps at-risk children deal with body imaging etc .It helps pre adolescents and adolescents freely express themselves with colors rather than conventional talk. This has led to children being more willing to participate in this form of therapy than talk with a therapist. Children who are autistic have found art therapy to be useful in bettering their social skills as it provides an outlet for their feeling rather than resorting to tantrums when communication proves too frustrating.
Art therapy has been used as a coping mechanism among cancer patients especially when it comes to expressing pain, fear and altered social relationships. It not only helped them express their self worth but also enhance it symbolically especially when in chemotherapy.
Art Therapy has proved especially helpful in tackling mental health issues like depression, dementia, schizophrenia etc .Research have proved that creative therapies like art therapy stimulates many areas of the brain at the same time thereby promoting healthy brain functioning. Due to reduction of stress and depression amongst mental health patients their overall well being is promoted.
Read: Depression and Healing
The therapeutic value of art is much underrated in our society. Drawing and paintings are seen as a waste of time rather than a way to express one self. Art therapy is definitely one of the most popular forms of therapy as the means to express is limitless. Also it helps clients bring in positive change and growth within a safe and comfortable environment.
healclinic has many expert practitioners in different therapies including art therapy. Want to know more about how it can help you, contact us