Whether or not you consider yourself a Michelangelo, you’ve probably heard of the benefits associated with exposure to art and its positive impact on your emotional well-being. Art therapy is a practice recognized by psychologists to assist in the healing process of their patients.
Its many benefits have been widely documented in publications such as Psychology Today and the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.
What Is Art Therapy?
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making.”
This therapeutic practice extends beyond just the visual arts, and into a multitude of mediums that can include dance, music, poetry, and other therapies. Psychologists and counselors have made use of the arts in their work as a channel for the expression and communication of complex feelings and emotions. Expressing oneself through art may be a new experience for some, and this too presents an opportunity to explore how past events may have had an impact on the present.
The method has been used with individuals of all ages, as well as with families and in group therapy. In group settings, a sense of community around an artistic practice also aids in the healing process. A hospital in London has even folded art therapy into its regular programming.
How Art Therapy Works
Art therapy uses the creative approaches of painting, drawing, photographing, and sculpting to assist people in expressing themselves in new and imaginative ways. This process involves analyzing the sometimes unconscious feelings that become apparent in their works of art. Through the counseling of Creative Arts Therapists, Arts Psychotherapists, Expressive Arts Therapists, or Social Emotional Arts Facilitators, patients are able to translate the emotional resonance embedded within their art pieces.
The results of this type of healing may eventually contribute to a greater awareness of patients’ own feelings and emotions so that they can work to address some underlying issues.
Why You Need Art In Your Life
There are many benefits to this type of treatment. Art therapy can contribute to greater emotional wellness, higher self-esteem, and better quality of life. Even if you're not quite ready to grab the paintbrush or charcoal just yet, you can try taking a trip to your local museum for some inspiration.
Just as art practice can be therapeutic, so too can carving out some time for yourself to contemplate the beauty of art even from afar. Google Arts & Culture is a great place to start.