What is art therapy?
Art therapy is the umbrella term of the field art-based therapies used in health care services to help children and adults. It is a creative way to express our thoughts into visual pieces for the sake of improving mental health, and emotional well-being. The therapy of art can be a form of expressive therapy that helps to improve cognitive function, self-esteem, emotional regulation, stress management, and reduce tension by combining a spiritual experience with a clinical-based treatment (Regev, 2018).
When did art therapy begin?
The history behind art therapy came after combining psychology and art around the 18th century emerged as a young field. Mainly known as Analytic Art therapy which focuses on the patient's view and the sharing process with the therapist through the artistic way, while the Art Psychotherapy approach focuses on the therapist analysis regarding the artwork such as drawing, photography, and sculpture. It addresses issues that talking psychotherapy cannot reach alone. Art therapists are well trained in both therapy and art to perform the sessions by psychological theories and clinical practice. A study was done at hospitals found that patients who participated in art program have better vitals with low sleeping problems and fast healing process, which indicate the influence of art on human’s health. Besides patients, the artwork that hanged on the corridors and rooms brought some positivity to the families, doctors, nurses, and care workers (Healther, 2010).
Making headway in recent times
Nowadays, art therapy is much recognized as an alternative type of therapy, it can take place in different settings, clinics, or non-clinical settings like art studios and workshops. As well, art therapy can be practice by all ages range from childhood to adulthood at affordable cost, it can be individual, couples, group sessions, or online therapy sessions. You don’t have to be talented to attempt creating art it can work for everyone and for various disorders, or disabilities to explore their emotions.
Art making is used by many people to cope with crises like divorce, loss, and illness. It provides help to those who suffer from mental illnesses, common mood disorders like, depression, or bipolar disorder, and even anxiety disorders can show some progress with this type of therapy. It is hard to measure the efficacy of art therapy, although people use it to escape the emotional damage through creativity.
Children with disabilities gained a lot of skills by joining art therapy, for instance, children with autism can benefit from developing their psychomotor and communication skills to promote mental growth and self-expression (Durrani, 2019). Children with trauma have suffered from anger, sadness, and shame, but doing art therapy can empower them to make choices and express their feelings. As well as patients with post-traumatic stress disorder may benefit from art therapy by enhancing the memories and engage with treatment. On the other side art therapy also can help with eating disorders, people with anorexia who face abnormal low weight can benefit from artwork to maintain their emotions and self-acceptance. Geriatric patients usually fight with the feeling of depression and burden that can lead to suicidal attempts. Surprisingly, elder people tend to enjoy more art therapy, but unfortunately, there was no major evidence of progress with dementia patients due to their mental condition and the absence of insight (Regev, 2018).
Clients of art therapy experience inner emotions and thoughts by implementing them on paper, paints, chalk, clay, or any materials that are given. The psychologist uses art-based assessment to evaluate the cognitive conditions, by giving the patient task to make a simple artwork that will indicate some cognitive impairment and to observe any nonverbal symbols signs. Overall, the beauty of the experience of art therapy is worth to be tried and lived with all of our senses. Art can be a way of connecting to our inner-self to have a deep understanding of our self, to achieve healing, or a rehabilitative session that can enhance our cognitive abilities and enjoy the pleasure of making art.
Regev, D. (2018). Effectiveness of Art Therapy With Adult Clients in 2018—What Progress Has Been Made? Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/ 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01531/full
Stuckey, H. L., & Nobel, J. (2010). The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–263. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.2008.156497
Durrani, H. (2019). A Case for Art Therapy as a Treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Art Therapy, 36(2), 103–106. https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2019.1609326