The premise behind Art Therapy—using art for a psychotherapeutic purpose —is that creating allows children and adults to express what is uppermost in their minds more authentically than talking with a therapist.
Art Therapy helps the psychotherapist understand a person's perceptions and feelings about what has happened in the past - or what is happening in the present. Looking at the artwork and talking about what was created also helps the individual find a way to communicate what may be hard to say in words. Art Therapy can help a diverse range of children and adults, and is a meaningful expressive experience for those who involve themselves with it.
Sometimes art expresses emotions, thoughts or conflicts quite graphically, as in the sculpture pictured below:
Sometimes art conceals, disguises or expresses symbolically. What do you see in this child's painting?
The purpose of Art Therapy is to help express concepts that a person may not be able to articulate. The drawing, painting, collage, or sculpture can then help bridge artistic expression into verbal expression. And from there, healing begins.
Some of the benefits include of Art Therapy*:
Self-discovery: At its most successful, Art Therapy triggers insight and emotional catharsis.
Personal fulfillment: The creation of a tangible reward can build confidence and nurture feelings of self-worth. Personal fulfillment comes from both the creative and the analytical components of the artistic process.
Empowerment: Art Therapy can help people visually express emotions and fears that they cannot express through conventional means, and can give them some sense of control over these feelings.
Relaxation and stress relief: Chronic stress can be harmful to both mind and body. Stress can weaken and damage the immune system, can cause insomnia and depression, and can trigger circulatory problems like high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. When used alone or in combination with other relaxation techniques such as guided imagery, Art Therapy can effectively relieve stress.
Symptom relief and physical rehabilitation: Art Therapy has a long history with the medical field as well. This type of therapy can promote physiological healing for children and adults who experience chronic pain, are recovering from a stroke, have had a heart attack or other catastrophic surgery, have cancer, AIDS, or a terminal illness, etc.
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