Art Therapies – Definition, History, Types, Uses, Benefits And More

Creative expression is helpful for healthy human development and recovery from mental anguish; art therapies for people with mental health issues aim to help them tap into their inner and creative resources while exploring personal issues with a trained art therapist—a safe and contained space to achieve a psychological change.

The UK and international researchers have found that many people with mental health problems find these therapies helpful, either on their own or as part of various medicines, including medications and talk treatments. People who have used art therapy say they provide a greater sense of choice and control than drugs or talk therapy.

What are art therapies?

It is a method that uses a person’s creativity to help develop their physical and emotional health; self-expression can awaken innate problem-solving abilities; it combines traditional techniques found in psychotherapy with the invention of producing visual art. Trauma-informed art therapy considers how the mind and body respond to traumatic events, recognizing that symptoms are coping strategies rather than pathology.

Art therapists are trained professionals who have a master’s degree in art therapy. Artistic theories combined with clinical techniques enhance the creative process’s healing effect on the client. The therapist is aware of the body’s reactions to stressful events and memories and can therefore incorporate activities artistic based on the senses.

People of all ages can benefit, particularly those who experience anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma; this therapeutic approach is helpful for those who prefer to focus on another task while discussing complex issues or who are challenged to express these problems. Verbally.

The creative process of expressing themselves artistically can help people solve problems, develop and control their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

You don’t have to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits. Some professionals can work with you to delve into the underlying messages communicated through your art, which will aid in the healing process.

Art Therapies

History of art therapies

While people have used the arts as a way to express, communicate, and heal for thousands of years, art therapy only began to formalize in the mid-20th century. Doctors noted that people with mental illness said themselves in drawings and other works of art, leading many to explore the use of art as a healing strategy. Since then, art has become an essential part of the therapeutic field and is used in evaluation and treatment techniques.

Typical uses of art therapies

Among the most common include, among others, the following:

  • People are under a lot of stress or pressure.
  • Managers and staff can be people who use art therapy.
  • Someone with mental health problems uses art therapy.
  • Someone with a learning disability.
  • Children or young adults who have problems in school.
  • Art therapy can benefit children, adolescents, or adults with personal problems.
  • People with more severe problems can use art therapy, for example, people with autism, brain injuries, eating disorders, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorderdepression, etc.
  • Someone who believes they have no problems and wants to explore more deeply may be someone who uses art therapy.

As you can see, anyone can use art therapy, and anyone who uses it can benefit somehow. There are benefits to a creative outlet in life, regardless of whether you are seeing an art therapist.

Types of art therapies

Five therapies have a lot to do with art, and these include:

Dance movement therapy

It is based on the assumption that the body and the mind are interrelated. It is defined as the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process that promotes the individual’s emotional, cognitive, and physical integration and produces changes in feelings, cognition, physical functioning, and behavior.

Drama therapy

It is the systematic and intentional use of drama/theater processes, products, and associations to achieve therapeutic goals of symptom relief, emotional and physical integration, and personal growth. It is an active approach that helps the client tell their story to solve a problem, achieve catharsis, expand the depth and breadth of their internal experience, understand the meaning of images, and strengthen their ability to observe personal roles while increasing flexibility between roles.

Music therapy

Integrate elements of music with therapy to help provide healing of mind, body, emotion, and spirit. A trained and certified music therapist uses the non-verbal language of music to initiate client contact and help foster a relationship that can help children and adults who have experienced trauma develop a sense of security, stress management strategies, creative expression, communication, social support, positive coping and resilience.

Music therapy provides avenues of communication that can be helpful for those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas in helping people who have experienced trauma, including increased relaxation, improved self-esteem, decreased anxiety, increased communication, improved relationships, greater group cohesion, and successful emotional release and Safe because it engages clients in a holistic and creative level, it can elicit responses from those who would not otherwise respond to traditional therapy.

Visual art therapy

It involves using different mediums like paint, clay, chalk, and photography to create something that expresses itself. You will decide what you want to do; you can listen to music or stories to inspire you.

Play therapy.

Through various activities, play therapy uses the therapeutic power of play to transform current life problems. It is a structured and theoretically based approach to treatment; playing is the primary tool, and language is secondary. Play therapy differs from ordinary play. The therapist helps children address and solve their problems based on the natural way children learn about themselves and their relationship to the world.

Sessions can be with an individual or with groups of children, a variety of therapeutic play techniques are used according to the child’s age and wishes, such as sand trays, dolls, puppets, blocks, blowing bubbles, and more. Through play, the child receives strategies to cope with difficulties that he may be powerless to change. It can also provide the therapist with valuable information about the child’s experiences, as many children can better express their needs and feelings.

Purpose of art therapies

The purpose is essentially one of healing; art therapy can be applied successfully to clients with physical, mental, or emotional problems, illnesses, and disorders; any visual art and art medium can be employed within the therapeutic process, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and digital art.

A proposed learning mechanism is through increased arousal and, consequently, the strengthening of neural connections.

Benefits of the use of artistic therapies

There are five expected benefits associated with using art therapy:

Stimulates the unfolding of the unconscious. People benefit from the unconscious bubbling on the surface of their consciousness; various mediums such as painting, psychodrama, dance, and sculpture extract unearthed material that may not have been seen, felt, observed, or accessed through talk therapy. By letting go and entering the creative flow, you create a portal for the process, allowing you to listen, look, and observe what might not be explained through words.

Externalizes and shapes the unfolded material. Giving the process a physical form allows a person to feel in control of their operation. It can bring depth and life to feelings and images. It shines a light on ambivalent feelings by externalizing them and giving them shape and color.

An example is having a person draw a picture of how they feel, and doing this could elicit additional information that was not cognitively available to the person. Also, one of the benefits is outsourcing the process so that a person can witness and be an observer of their approach; this is especially useful for painful and difficult images and memories by allowing a person to observe things from a distance.

Wake up and provoke the process. The most apparent benefit of expressive arts therapy is the spark created in the imagination; this awakening process allows the person to experience something new; it is like a moment, a discovery. It can lead to new things and open a new ones. Door to unarticulated feelings and shed light on the past can provide a new language and foster existing language when current circumstances and words cannot describe the developmental process.

Supports inclusive learning. Encourages undiscovered places of knowledge within each person; different sensory experiences enhance the opportunity for a person to experience a different way of knowing. Each adventure is enhanced by the other and forms new experiences, thoughts, sensations, and images not typically experienced in the person’s average one-dimensional experience.

An example of this could be asking a person to explore sounds representative of their current experience, which then delves into the depth of pain that has gone unnoticed.

Do you need to be talented?

You do not need to be “afraid” of expressing yourself through art, although it may initially seem different and unnatural. It is generally because the individual is not used to communicating through the arts. The creative process can be one of the most rewarding aspects; along with an art therapist, gradually, if not immediately, you should become comfortable with this new form of expression. After all, the goal is not necessarily to create an art masterpiece.

What is a typical session of art therapy like?

In most sessions, the focus is on your inner experience, feelings, perceptions, and imagination; However, art therapy may involve learning skills or art techniques, the emphasis is generally on developing and expressing images that come from the person rather than those they see in the outside world and although some traditional art classes may ask you to paint or draw from your imagination, in art therapy, your inner world of images, feelings, thoughts, and ideas is always they are paramount to the experience.

It can take place in various settings; art therapists may vary the goals of art therapy and the way they deliver it, depending on the needs of the institution or the client. After assessing the client’s strengths and needs, it can be offered in an individual or group format, depending on which is most appropriate for the person.

Art therapy is often offered in schools as a form of therapy for children because of their creativity and interest in art as a means of expression; it can benefit children with a variety of problems, such as learning disabilities, disorders of the speech and language, behavioral disorders, and other emotional disorders that could be hindering a child’s learning. Like other psychologists working in schools, art therapists should be able to diagnose problems facing their student clients and individualize treatment and interventions.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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