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Art Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Most people have heard about art therapy, the question is, does everyone understand what this means? Who is it for? Do you need a therapist to use it? How does it work? These are some questions I would like to explore while, at the same time, looking at some of the benefits of art therapy.
As to the first question, “Who is it for?” a simple answer is that it is for everyone! It can take place at anytime and anywhere!
As an art teacher, I have heard many people say, “But I can’t draw. I’m not an artist!” This is based on an illusion that everyone’s art should be of the same standard or even style. We compare ourselves to each other and thus we don’t believe we can produce what someone else can. We lower our own self-confidence with comparison. When we remove our expectation of how we think it should be, we realise that anyone can draw or paint in their own way. Removing the pressure of expectation leaves room for enjoyment.
Some might argue and say that they don’t like the way the paint feels or even smells. There are so many different forms of art that I believe there is something for everyone. One might like to colour in, another might love working with clay. It is not limited, for example; cooking can be seen as an art form, combining different flavours and colours on a plate is a creative process. Writing, too, is an art form. When we look closely, art is everywhere and hidden in everything.
How, then, does it function as therapy? I believe art can be everything from a stress relief to a creative expression and even a mental escape. Intense concentration can make you fully aware of the present moment which can give the brain a relief from all the constant thoughts about things not relevant to the moment. Sometimes those few minutes of mental relief can help someone immensely. Others simply find it relaxing.
Some can argue that “impression” without “expression” equals depression. In the very busy lives we live today it is important to find a balance and art therapy can be just that.
There are professionals who offer guidance and counseling using art therapy. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these services, however it is not always necessary to make use of a therapist. It can be as simple as sitting down and building a puzzle, colouring in a picture or even putting your hands into some paint. This self-medicating therapy can relieve stress and help re-centre the mind. It only takes a few minutes, give it a go!
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