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What Is Art Therapy?

Jun 13

In What Ways Does Art Therapy Help People?

Art therapy is a somewhat obscure concept to the majority of people. Because of a deep dissatisfaction with one or more elements of their lives, they seek treatment. Traditional talk therapy is often ineffective because of a lack of development or a communication barrier. Art therapy, in my perspective, is the deliberate use of artistic techniques and materials to address personal growth and development issues.


Therapy & The Visual Arts

A master's degree in human development, mental illness evaluation and diagnosis, psychology, counseling and art therapy theory, studio art, ethics and cultural competency are required for art therapists. They are also required to be licensed in their respective states. There are a number of ways in which an artist's therapy might be tailored to match a client's specific needs. A single person's experience with art therapy is likely to be vastly different from that of another. For example, the needs of a client with Autism who is having communication challenges are vastly different from those of a cancer patient who is trying to make sense of his or her medical catastrophe. People of various ages and backgrounds can benefit from art therapy, which may improve their quality of life. When it comes to gaining insights and developing self-awareness, the relevance of visual art expression remains constant.


The Brain & Emotions

The amygdala, the region of the brain that processes emotions, also processes visual and sensory input. Emotional exhaustion affects many aspects of daily life, including sleep, eating, social interactions, productivity, and even physical health, since it causes the nervous system to overreact. Emotionally drained people may try to stay away from the things that make them feel this way. Attempts to do so can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms and habits, which can impede one's ability to grow and improve one's quality of life. Because the amygdala is responsible for processing emotions, pictures and sensory information, all of which may be utilized to help people better understand and control their emotions. As people become more proficient and confident in controlling their emotions, they experience less overwhelm and seek to avoid it. Maladaptive behaviors and coping mechanisms are less frequently used as a result.


How Is Art Therapy Helped?

When working with clients, an art therapist will employ a variety of art supplies and techniques to stimulate sensory responses and create imagery that is closely tied to their emotions. Traumatic events can be better understood and processed by this technique, which involves re-experiencing sensations in order to build a story around them. The development of new terms that facilitate human communication is therefore possible. When working with a client, the ultimate goal is to help them achieve a better understanding of themselves, new ways to cope with life's challenges, and fresh perspectives on the world around them.


What It Isn't: Art Therapy

Art therapy and therapeutic art making are not the same thing. We can all agree that creating art is therapeutic, but the benefits of doing it on your own vs working with a professional artist are not the same. Both have their advantages, that much is evident. It's the therapeutic interaction between the art therapist and their client that makes a difference in the outcome. First and foremost, an art therapist is trained to assess, diagnose, and establish a treatment plan that serves as the therapy's guideline rather than simply creating art that makes people happy. It is the specialty of art therapists to recognize which artistic techniques and materials are most appropriate for a particular client's needs and goals, and to apply these techniques and materials effectively in treatment.


Take A Breath & Make Art

For many individuals, the use of art therapy to describe coloring books or an evening at a wine and painting event has them scratching their heads. Why? People participate in such activities because they feel energized and invigorated afterward and have experienced the soothing benefits. Art therapy and therapeutic art creation, on the other hand, need to be distinguished. There are a number of jurisdictions where it is illegal to use the term "art therapy" to describe anything other than treatment administered by a licensed art therapist.