Art Therapy & How It Helps

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It integrates psycho-therapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve mental health and well-being. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. Sometimes referred to as ‘Creative Arts Therapy’ or ‘Expressive Arts Therapy’, it encourages people to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and the creative process.

The profession of art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms), and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems and disorders; impulsivity and attentional issues like ADHD and Autism; substance abuse and other addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psycho-social difficulties.

The idea of using art in psychotherapy has been around since the early days of Carl Jung. This modality of healing has continued to grow and expand showing people how the benefits of making art in a safe, secure setting can be. It is through the making of art that feelings trapped inside the body can be moved and expanded on, bringing an awareness to ourselves that was before uncovered.

Art Therapy can help a person give expression to their feelings and hidden inner conflicts that they may not have words for. When people are then able to associate feelings verbally to the art work created, the therapy speeds up recovery.

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