Art Therapy - More Than Just Pretty Pictures

Art therapy really took off in the 1970’s and has become one of the most popular non-mainstream forms of therapy. Art in any form, painting, music, pottery, is a powerful tool to relieve the symptoms that are treated with more traditional forms of therapy. Through the magic of art ailments such as depression, addiction, and anxiety can not only be reduced, but in some instances completely removed. If you need therapy but are hesitant to try traditional therapy, maybe art therapy is something you should explore.

Why Art Therapy?

In our society there is a stigma that comes with going to “therapy.” Many don’t believe traditional therapy works and won’t even attempt it. Others fear the perception that if they go to therapy they will be seen in a negative way. Art therapy relieves a lot of these fears by achieving the same results as traditional therapy but through the act of creating art. It is believed that art is the expression of our subconscious mind and thus through art our thoughts and feelings are expressed. This can be an avenue that the art therapist can use to diagnose the patient and determine an accurate treatment program. Also, art therapy is very effective at building self-esteem by allowing the patient to create works of art that are both unique and special to the person creating them. Art therapy has been found to be very effective for treating addictions.

Art Therapy For Addictions

An addiction is “a condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity (Google Dictionary).” Art therapy uses the activity of creating art to replace an addiction to some other substance, thing, or activity. Also, art therapy is very successful at determining the root of the addiction and treating the underlying cause(s). When traditional addiction treatment plans have not worked, art therapy is a viable alternative option for treating addiction. Not only does it replace the damaging action with a rewarding, safe action, it also helps build the self-esteem of the addict and gives a sense of purpose that is missing in many addicts lives.

How is Art Therapy Used?

Art therapy is used to treat many illnesses. Art has been found effective at reducing the side effects of such illnesses as influenza and heart disease by reducing the emotional effects of these illnesses. Art therapy has also shown to help reduce recovery time from surgeries and also help improve patient’s vital signs. Art therapy has been found to be successful in treating autism in teenaged children by providing them an outlet to communicate without the social anxiety they usually experience. In cancer patients, art therapy helps improve emotional well-being, improves the patient’s acceptance of and ability to adjust to having cancer and provides an identity for the patient outside of having cancer.

Art therapy has also been used on people in prison to help rehabilitate them. Through art therapy prisoners have been able to determine the cause of their actions and start to change their mindset. Prisoners who participate in art therapy show a greater tendency to work together with other inmates and also fosters an environment of sharing their feelings. Art therapy also helps inmates feel a sense of accomplishment that normally would not be present in a prison setting.

Art Therapy - Is it Right for Me?

As with any therapy the easiest way to find out if art therapy is right for you is to try it out. You can call your insurance provider and ask if there is an art therapist in your area. If you are hesitant to try traditional therapy methods then I would strongly suggest trying art therapy. Not only does it help with several of the illnesses treated by traditional therapy, it provides a sense of accomplishment and boosts your confidence. Whether you like to draw, paint, due pottery, or create sculptures, art therapy has an avenue for you to express your feelings, identify the cause of illnesses and lead to recovery. As long as your open to the process, art therapy can be a very beneficial form of treatment.

Comment on this post (1 comment)

  • Francine Greene says...

    I am a certified drug and alcohol counselor and currently conduct a 12 step of recovery art therapy group. I have had experience with attending workshops for art therapy through grief and loss. I have attended basic drawing classes in my college years which perpetuated my interest with conducting an art group to provide individuals the opportunity to express feelings thoughts and etc. in a non-threatening environment. This article is awesome and I am glad to have read it. I am really interested in how to make it better for my clients as well as for myself. If you have any feedback for me it will be greatly appreciated.

    September 15, 2016

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