Updated on July 30, 2021
For a long time now, healing through art has been recognized by artists all around the world. However, recently art therapy for depression is gaining recognition as well. Since art therapy has the potential of creating new modes and avenues for expressing oneself, it can provide invaluable benefits to people who are suffering from severe depressive episodes. Recently, there has been mounting evidence pointing towards a positive outcome in art therapy for depression.
Even though artists of all genres have recognized and appreciated the healing process of art, only in the past few decades has art been able to enter into psychotherapy. With art therapy emerging as a legitimate field of therapy, people suffering from depression have been provided a new avenue of recovery, opening up new possibilities for healing.
How does art therapy for depression works?
Work on self-expression
Depression is a very deep disorienting, painful as well as isolating experience. It robs the person of the capacity to feel happy. Furthermore, it silences the sufferer and causes the person to lose the ability to voice out the suffering. People suffering from depression are not able to communicate their problems and pain in a healthy manner. Thus, depression turns into destruction and destroys one’s sense of self, emotions as well as functionality.
Art therapy for depression can be an opportunity for such people to push against the walls by immersing themselves into the process of creation. Researchers have shown that creating or making art can have a very positive impact on a person’s psychological as well as physical well-being. Patients have reported, that while they are making art, they end up talking to the therapist about their problems. Somehow, making art makes the process of communication much easier.
Art therapy for depression provides a non verbal communication mode
Explore thoughts and emotions
Art therapy for depression can help people fully explore their emotions, thoughts and address their mental health problems in a positive and safe manner. Art therapy further allows a person to achieve a sense of self-sufficiency, break through the dysfunctional thought patterns which have led to depression and gain a sense of independence. It also helps develop coping mechanisms, strengthen problem-solving skills and increase the empathetic ability of a person.
Allows future visualization
Reinforce positive actions and coping skills in patients
Notice thinking patterns
Strengthen relationships and connection
Focus on highlighting the positives
No need of direct art
Research proof supporting art therapy for depression
A study published in 2015 examined the impact of art therapy on anxiety, distress, trauma, depression, low self-esteem and finally the inability to cope. As per the researchers, patients who were receiving art therapy for depression showed improvement in case of 14 out of 15 randomized controlled trials. A few of the studies have also indicated that art therapy turned out to be a more effective treatment than the control groups who were not receiving art therapy. The participants who took part in art therapy made less phone calls to their mental health and medical care providers, had reduced numbers of somatic symptoms and complaints and reduced utilization of mental and medical health services.
How is art therapy integrated into the treatment of depression?
Art therapy for depression is not a stand-alone treatment. It is normally incorporated within a range of therapeutic interventions which enables the psychologist to create a comprehensive treatment experience for people suffering from depression.
How does art therapy for depression work?
As per research, when a person sees something which he or she believes is soothing, beautiful and pleasing, the neurotransmitter dopamine which is located in one of the pleasure regions of the brain gets released. Thus, when people create art, the release of dopamine causes an increase in the positive feelings and allows the person to feel happy.
In the field of art therapy for depression, therapists are performing what is normally considered as the hardest of tasks by traditional psychoanalysts. They are getting the people who are suffering from depression to proactively express their symptoms through art allowing them to manage and overcome the same. This leads to the end result being a person who feels positive, has a higher self-esteem and sees the world as a beautiful place
Frequently asked questions
Their are specific form of drawings which help a therapist understand and access depression of the patient. These are:
- The Don Jones assessment
- Draw a person picking apple from tree
- Draw a person in the rain