What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a fuses the creative process with psychology and serves as a unique way for individuals to process and express emotions while providing an alternate way to navigate experiences. It’s a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It’s not about creating a new masterpiece, but about finding a medium through which you can express your thoughts and feelings.
The Magic Behind Art Therapy
Art therapy works its magic by allowing us to express ourselves in ways words sometimes can’t. It’s like having a conversation with yourself through colors, shapes, and images. This form of therapy can help individuals visually express—and then process—emotions they’ve been struggling with. During therapy, many professionals aim to guide their clients through paths of understanding their feelings and experiences, and why self expression can be difficult, art therapy can allow for a smooth path to emotional reflection and understanding. Similar to reflecting on an experience through journaling, art therapy can allow individuals to reflect through artistic creation.
The Benefits of Art Therapy
Art therapy has numerous benefits. It can help reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and cultivate emotional resilience. It can also foster self-awareness, promote personal growth, and enhance cognitive function. One of the reasons that these benefits can be extracted from art therapy is because of the nature of the creative process. Creating art forces individuals to think in new ways to problem solve in order to get to a desired outcome. In a non-therapeutic setting, this desired outcome might be a polished, finalized work of art. Although that can be the case for therapeutic settings as well, emotional resilience and personal growth are specific outcomes that are often goals of art therapy.
Mental Health and Art Therapy
Art therapy is particularly beneficial for those dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. It provides a safe space for individuals to explore their feelings and deal with emotional conflicts. PTSD, for example, can often be caused by events that are difficult to discuss and reflect on, but art therapy can provide a new pathway to healing by allowing for a form of reflection that is less difficult to take on.
Art Therapy in Practice
In an art therapy session, you might find yourself using paints, markers, clay, or even doing collage work. The goal isn’t to produce aesthetically pleasing artwork (although that can be a bonus!), but rather to let your creativity flow and see where it takes you. On the journey to healing, an art therapist provides the materials and encouragement to help you with self expression through art. Although the process may be daunting, especially for those who don’t believe they’re “artistic”, art therapy is unique because it’s guided by a professional with the goal of their client making as much personal growth as possible.
Remember, in art therapy, it’s not about the end product—it’s about the journey. The act of creating art can be therapeutic in itself.