Art therapy is used to help people manage physical and emotional problems by using creative activities to express emotions. It provides a way for people to come to terms with emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, and express unspoken and often unconscious concerns about their illness and their lives. "Expressive arts therapy" or "creative arts therapy" may also include dance and movement, drama, poetry, photo therapy and others, as well as the more traditional art methods.
Many clinicians have observed and documented significant benefits among people who have used art therapy.
How is it promoted for use?
Art therapy is based on the idea that the creative act can be healing. According to practitioners, called art therapists, it helps people express hidden emotions, reduces stress, fear and anxiety, and provides a sense of freedom. Many art therapists also believe the act of creating influences brain wave patterns and the chemicals released by the brain.
Art therapy has been used with bone marrow transplant patients, people with eating disorders, emotionally impaired young people, disabled people, the chronically ill, chemically addicted individuals, sexually abused adolescents, caregivers of cancer patients, and others. Art therapy may also be used to engage and distract patients whose illnesses or treatments cause pain.
Artwork may also be used as a diagnostic tool, particularly with children, who often have trouble talking about painful events or emotions. Art therapists say that often children can express difficult emotions or relay information about traumatic times in their lives more easily through drawings than through conventional therapy.
What does it involve?
People involved in art therapy are given the tools they need to produce paintings, drawings, sculptures, and many other types of artwork. Art therapists work with patients individually or in groups. The job of the art therapist is to help patients express themselves through their creations and to talk to patients about their emotions and concerns as they relate to their art. For example, an art therapist may encourage a person with cancer to create an image of themselves with cancer, and in this way express feelings about the disease that may be hard to talk about or may be unconscious.
In another form of art therapy, patients look at pieces of art, often in photographs, and then talk with a therapist about what they have seen. A caregiver or family member can also gather artwork in the form of photographs, books or prints, and give the patient a chance to look at and enjoy the art.
Many medical centers and hospitals include art therapy as part of inpatient care. It can be practiced in many other settings, such as schools, psychiatric centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, prisons, day care treatment programs, nursing homes, hospices, patients homes, and art studios.
Art Therapy can be broadly classified under three heads.
1) Art Therapy - Defines the application of principles which rule visual arts for psycho therapy.
2) Creative Art Therapy - Covers the application of therapy in creative fields like dance, drama, music, and writing.
3) Expressive Art Therapy - This is applied through the performing arts to for psychological healing.
Art Therapy is for people of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds who are seeking personal growth or may be struggling with:
• self abuse
• separation & loss
• learning disabilities & ADD
• mental illness
• serious medical illness