Feelings can often defy words. This is one of the shortcomings of talk therapy. How does one discuss emotional states with a therapist when they can’t even sort out the emotions in their head? Fortunately, there is a growing form of treatment backed by scientific evidence that can express these emotions and get out feelings that might otherwise be trapped in a person’s head. This expressive treatment is called art therapy.
What Is Art Therapy and Its Importance?
When someone thinks of art therapy, the thought might invoke images of scribbling on a piece of paper or, for the more artistically inclined, drawing objects or landscapes. It is true that this can be a part of art therapy, but there is so much more to it. In reality, art therapy encompasses all forms of art media and can be used in the treatment process of people hurting from any form of mental episodes to help restore body and spirit. This can be used at any point in one’s treatment, and at any age.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy integrates mental health therapies with human services to help bolster people’s experiences through art, creativity, applied psychological therapy, and human experience. More simply, art therapy can be an individual treatment or used with more than one person in a group together, and science suggests that it can reshape our brain and alter our thoughts in a more positive, balanced way.
What entails is that art therapy is much more expansive than just drawing. In fact, there are no set rules to what defines art therapy, but the overarching theme is that it will express creativity. Poetry, singing, dancing, knitting, doodling, painting, and (for the more mathematically inclined) expressing emotions through numbers or solving equations.
What art therapy is not is something that has strict rules. When someone was young, they may have been told that coloring within the lines was a sign of growth, that maturity meant structure. Unfortunately, this was often bad advice, and not only limited the creative side of the brain but may have worked to turn people off to the creative process. Art therapy works to undo this thinking and open up all sorts of possibilities. It is not uncommon for someone who is scared of, or thinks that they are really bad at art, to realize its healing power once the right materials are given to them for expression.
Art therapy is important because it helps all types of recovery and is a main source of treatment.
Art Therapy is a Scientifically Recognized Form of Therapy
There are real psychological benefits to art therapy. It has been shown to involve pathways in the brain that are part of sensory functions and motor skills. Specific parts of the brain involved in major functions of the body are improved by this type of therapy. It has also been shown to improve self-esteem, build confidence, and promote change in ways of thinking, all to improve one’s well-being, and it can continue to aid in and also provide skills that can help you face the world, that can be utilized through the rest of your life.