Art is everywhere and it can affect you in different ways. For example, a drawing of nature may evoke tranquility, while a vibrant abstract painting may inspire you. Why this happens hasn’t yet been fully explained by science, but we do know art’s effects on us can be profound.
On the other hand, art can also be used to improve your well-being through art therapy, or the use of creative techniques for therapeutic purposes, where each session is guided by an art therapist. Given its various benefits, many people have taken an interest in art therapy. If you want to learn more about it, here are some things you need to know about it, along with why you should try it.
It Can Reduce Stress
Creating art can help ease stress by calming your mind and body. One study The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that doing art-related activities can encourage your body’s release of dopamine, which is a chemical that gives you the sensation of pleasure. This happy hormone is helpful when you are struggling with anxiety or depression.
It Can Help Treat Various Mental Conditions
Art therapy can be used for various reasons, but it is widely used to complement treatments for mental disorders. In some treatment facilities like a drug rehab Phoenix residents go to, they use art therapy to support traditional treatment methods including cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy. Some health issues art therapy can be used are:
- Substance use disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Psychosocial issues
You Don’t Need to Be an Artist for Art Therapy to Work
You don’t have to be an artist to engage in a creative activity. The same goes for art therapy. Regardless of talent or artistic experience, almost anyone can experience the therapeutic benefits of art therapy. The process does not focus on the artwork or its quality. Rather, it’s about exploring the connection between the creative choices and the patient’s inner thoughts.
Also, each art therapy session can be for individuals, couples, and groups. The therapy can take place in various settings like wellness centers, schools, private counseling, hospitals, and other community organizations. Art therapy can be utilized in situations like:
- Adults going through extreme stress
- Children and teens with behavioral or social problems at home or at school
- People with learning disabilities
You Can Use It for Self-Expression
One of the benefits of art therapy is it gives you an opportunity to process and express your feelings in a healthy manner. Some emotions like sadness or anger are complex and can be difficult to express using words. Creating art can be a form of release for such feelings.
You can also express other ideas or fears through your art. At times, your artwork can be a tool to tell stories that can help art therapists understand your beliefs better and help support your treatment.
You Get to Explore Your Creative Side
Human beings are naturally creative. While you may not be the next Vincent van Gogh or Leonardo da Vinci, you still possess an artistic quality and you can further explore it through art therapy. When you unleash your creativity, you might discover the inner artist in you. To do this, you can try various activities including:
- Sketching and doodling
- Making a collage
- Sculpting and working with clay
It Can Support Healing
Making art can be healing and help people cope with emotional trauma. A study by Frontiers in Psychology shows adults who experienced trauma found that art therapy helps reduce their trauma symptoms and ease depression. In addition, art therapy can support patients undergoing treatment for certain illnesses like cancer. Engaging with art seems to improve their quality of life, according to athe same study
It Promotes Self-Discovery
Creating an artwork taps into your imagination that can lead to self-discovery. When you are drawing, for instance, shapes and images can be linked to certain memories. Through the activity, you may be able to recall the emotions you had when first encountering certain shapes or figures, and become more aware of them.
In art therapy, you get to explore your thoughts and ideas freely. Devoting time to doing artistic activities can help you recognize and acknowledge feelings to have a better understanding of yourself.
The Activities Can Be Empowering
The process of creating something from scratch can be empowering, especially once you have a finished product. For example, when working with clay, it’s not easy to mold it, especially at the start when your hands lack the strength to work the material. However, once you have the basics down and can work with the material well, you will definitely feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete a piece—which can help you to appreciate the time and effort that you put into it. It can also boost your confidence in your artistic skills, which, in turn, will encourage you to keep making art.
It’s Different from Attending an Art Class
You have to keep in mind that art therapy is not the same as art classes. In a class, teachers help you to learn skills and techniques to create a specific product. On the other hand, art therapy sessions allow patients to focus on their inner experiences. Patients are encouraged to use art to express their feelings, imagination, ideas, and perceptions.
Art is a great way to express yourself and tap into your creativity. But there are other benefits you can receive when making art through art therapy. Try to enjoy the experience, and feel free to experiment with various creative activities until you find the ones that support your overall wellness.