Mental health is as important as, if not more important than, physical health. Typically a physical illness is easier to diagnose and treat than a mental illness.
While pharmacological treatment is the first option for treating mental disorders to alleviate the predominant symptoms, many antipsychotics contribute to poor quality of life and detrimental side effects.
As a result, for more than a half-century, clinicians have turned to complementary treatments, such as art therapy, to address patients’ health needs.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy, according to the American Art Therapy Association, involves the body, mind, and spirit. Unlike traditional therapy, it incorporates kinesthetic, perceptual, and sensory approaches into the therapeutic discovery process rather than relying solely on verbal communication. This can provide a more comprehensive and detailed picture of a patient’s psychological state.
Art therapy promotes mental health by creating a positive environment for individuals and groups to express themselves through a combination of art activities and verbal interaction.
Art therapy is more than just a set of techniques; it is a structured intervention that aims to create a safe space for the client to express themselves.
Art therapy aims to help people develop self-expression and self-awareness, as well as help them cope with stress and boost self-esteem. The creation or appreciation of art can help people explore emotions and help improve self-acceptance, self-confidence and social skills.
How does art therapy help mental health?
- Art therapy can help you come to terms with problems and stress, as well as help accelerate your recovery.
- Bring clarity to experiences and feelings that are difficult to express in words.
- Relax and de-stress: Dealing with anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma can be mentally and physically taxing. Creating art can help you relax your mind and body by relieving stress.
- Solve problems by looking at them from a more comprehensive viewpoint.
- Develop self-awareness: The art process will provide you with a sense of accomplishment, which can be very beneficial in improving your self-esteem and confidence.
- Emotional release: The most important advantage of art therapy is that it provides you with a healthy outlet for expressing and letting go of all your feelings and fears. Complex emotions, such as sadness or anger, are sometimes difficult to express verbally. When you are unable to express yourself but need emotional release, creating art may help you.
- Control behaviours and/or symptoms.
- Self-esteem: The art process will give you a sense of accomplishment, which can be very beneficial in improving your self-esteem and confidence.
- Improve your social skills.
What are the different types of art therapy?
Visual arts such as painting, drawing, collage, and sculpture are commonly used in art therapy. Other creative arts, such as music, colouring, dancing and creative writing, are also used for therapeutic purposes but are usually regarded as distinct modalities in their own right.
How does art therapy help people with depression?
Art therapy can be highly beneficial in treating conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even some phobias. It is an excellent way to express yourself without using words, process complex emotions, and find relief.
Patients who are undergoing art therapy work with licensed, professionally trained therapists who excel in integrating the arts with various types of therapy, such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, group therapy, and rehabilitation therapy.
Art therapy allows a person feeling stressed or overwhelmed to slow down and explore the issues in their life. It enables them to control their behaviour, reduce anxiety, process feelings, and de-stress.
Art therapy is used to treat a variety of conditions
Working with an art therapist may benefit anyone interested in gaining psychological insight and creatively processing emotions. Art therapy can be used to treat various conditions, and any of these treatments can include a variety of artistic media. However, painting and drawing are still the most commonly used.
- Childhood mental health issues, particularly for nonverbal children or less developed verbal skills.
- Concerns about one’s mental health due to illness or medical treatment.
How long does art therapy take to be effective?
The number of art therapy sessions to be effective can vary greatly depending on your therapist, medical condition and treatment goals. Some people may only participate in art therapy for one or two sessions and have a breakthrough, whereas in other cases, art therapy may be a component of ongoing treatment.
Final thoughts on Art Therapy for Mental Health
Art therapists provide therapeutic interventions for mental health diagnoses, wellbeing, early intervention, and developmental disorders.
Art therapy can assist people in resolving conflicts, developing interpersonal skills, managing behaviour, reducing stress, increasing self-esteem, and gaining insight.
When administered by a trained professional, art therapy can help improve various mental and physical symptoms, providing significant relief and promoting recovery from debilitating mental disorders.