With everything we now know about mental health, it’s no surprise that all kinds of treatment methods — both medicinal and therapeutic — have emerged. In some cases, the benefits of therapy may equal or even outweigh what traditional pharmaceuticals can provide. Because of this, therapy has become an essential part of mental health treatment for countless patients all over the world. Even for those who are suffering from physical pain (for example, during a hospital stay after surgery) can benefit both mentally and emotionally from certain types of therapeutic methods. Since the mid-20th century, art therapy has emerged as a unique way to address mental health concerns and has been embraced by hospitals, inpatient mental health facilities, and other healthcare centers.
What exactly is art therapy?
The American Art Therapy Association describes this practice as using “the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.” The idea of this type of therapy is based on the idea that “the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”
That’s quite a bit to take in. Amazingly, something so simple as creating art could help all people — whether they are in need of intensive psychiatric care or are experiencing substantial stress and anxiety from a professional or personal situation — work through their problems and gain a better understanding of themselves.
What’s involved in the average therapy session involving art?
This type of therapy initially came about when medical professionals found that those suffering from mental health issues often expressed their emotions through art, such as personal drawings. This practice later evolved into a healing strategy and is even used in mental health assessments.
This type of therapy is used with individuals of all ages — from young children to senior citizens. It’s also used in a variety of facilities, including hospitals, healthcare facilities, community centers, and schools. Art therapists will use different types of art-making methods with patients. Sometimes, a session may involve drawing or painting, while other therapists will utilize collage-making or sculpting.
However, this type of session is not merely an art class. Instead of focusing on improving your artistic skills or drawing inspiration from a still life, those who participate in this type of therapy will focus on their inner experiences. That refers to creating art based on an individual’s own feelings, thoughts, ideas, and imaginations. That’s really where the importance lies, as this can provide a patient with a way to work through trauma, fear, anxiety, stress, grief, anger, and a host of other emotions.
Who can benefit from this type of therapy?
Just about anyone can experience the benefits of creating art, but art therapy can be of particular help to certain demographics. Individuals who have a history of emotional trauma, severe stress, depression, anxiety, physical or mental abuse or violence, behavioral problems, brain injuries, and other mental health considerations may find this type of therapy to be extremely beneficial.
It’s also important to note that mental health issues and their treatments come with immense stigmas, even today. Some people do not wish to take medication or have trouble finding the right pharmaceutical solution. In some cases, these may not even be an appropriate course of action. Considering that only two-thirds of adults and one-fifth of teenagers receive treatment for anxiety, this can be an extremely approachable, non-medicinal way to embark on the recovery process for many people.
Although art may be dismissed by some as frivolous, more people now understand the essential role it plays in our culture and in our emotional well-being. To learn additional information about our art therapy offerings or other kinds of therapeutic methods, go to our Facebook page or contact us today.