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Understanding the benefits of art therapy

Benefits of art therapy

Benefits of art therapy

Let’s look into the benefits of art therapy

Updated on July 31st, 2021
Art therapy is the use of artistic methods for the treatment of psychological disorders as well as to enhance the mental health of the person. The idea behind art therapy is that creative ways of expressing oneself can cause healing as well as improve the mental well-being of the person. There are numerous benefits of art therapy for people who are suffering from mental health issues. 

To experience art therapy, you do not have to be an artist. One of the benefits of art therapy is that creating art, viewing other’s art, or even watching someone bring art to life can help people explore their emotions, cope with stress, work on social skills, develop self-awareness and finally boost self-esteem.

How can art therapy help?

Art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques along with creativity to improve the well-being and mental health. According to the American Art therapy Association, art therapy can be correctly characterized as a manner of approach to mental health which utilizes the process of art created for the purpose of improving the emotional physical and mental wellness of the person.

Amongst the numerous benefits of art therapy, one is that it can allow people to use the creative process to explore themselves, thus gaining personal insights and developing new coping mechanisms.

What are the techniques used in art therapy?

The primary techniques that are used in art therapy are drawing, coloring, painting, collage making, card making etc. When the person concerned makes or creates a piece of art, it allows him or her to explore what they made and why did they make it. By exploring their own art, people can identify themes and conflicts which might be causing upheaval in their day-to-day life.

I am not an artist. How can art therapy help me?

One of the main benefits of art therapy is that there is no need for a person to be artistic or have the artistic ability to take part in art therapy. People from all walks of life can benefit from art therapy. Research has suggested that even just the presence of art can help in boosting the mental health of people.

A study done in 2017 also shows that the presence of art in hospitals led to patients feeling safe.

Who can benefit from art therapy?

Art therapy can be used for the treatment of a variety of mental disorders as well as psychological illnesses. In many cases, art therapy might be used along with other techniques of psychotherapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or group therapy.

Certain specific situations where art therapy can be of great help include

  • Children suffering from social or behavioral problems at home and/or school.
  • Adults or children who have experienced a traumatic event
  • Children suffering from learning disabilities
  • People experiencing mental health problems
  • Adults who are experiencing severe stress
  • People suffering from brain injury
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Some other mental conditions in which are therapy can be used are:

  • Cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Family, relationship problems
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]
  • Substance abuse·
  • Psychosocial issues
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Benefits of art therapy are numerous from improving ones quality of life to reducing many psychological symptoms case of cancer patients.  

Where is art therapy conducted?

Art therapy can be conducted anywhere. The most common places where the therapy is normally conducted are the patient’s office, schools, private mental health offices, community organizations etc. 
In specific settings where art therapy and be done
  • Colleges and universities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Group homes
  • Churches
  • Art studios
  • Community centers
  • Elementary schools as well as high schools
  • Private psychologist’s office
  • Women shelters
  • Hospitals
  • Wellness Centers
  • Senior centers

A guide to art therapy for newbies

Most often people wonder how does art therapy differ from any other normal art class. While art class is mainly focused on teaching a specific technique or teaching the paths to reach a specified product, art therapy focuses on letting clients understand their own emotions and inner experiences.

In the case of art therapy, clients are encouraged to make a form of art that expresses what they feel rather than an expression of the world around us.

Specific benefits of art therapy:

There are numerous benefits of art therapy. However, here I will discuss 9 best ones:

Improvement in self management:

People struggling from depression, stress or anxiety feel that they have lost control over their lives. They struggle will achieving their goals and find it difficult to balance their day to day activities. One of the benefits of art therapy is that it helps a person relearn goes to focus on what’s important, cultivate discipline and love a healthy life full of meaning.
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Reduce symptoms of depression:

Depression causes people to feel negatively about Almost everything in their lives. Another benefit of art therapy is that it helps bring back positivity in the lives of those suffering from depression. Art orders such people something to look forward to on a daily basis. Art therapy has also been observed to help combat the chemical invariance which have been observed in case of depression.

Improves non verbal communication skills

People who are struggling with their mental health find it very difficult to talk about what is bothering them. Non verbal communication is possibly the biggest benefit of art therapy. It allows people to communicate and express their deepest emotions without actually talking. 

Addressing ones part trauma

Depression, stress, anxiety are most often rooted in very painful past experiences of the person. Art can allow people to express their thoughts and feelings about the trauma, find closure and move forward in their life. 
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Reduced everyday stress

Stress is the primary cause behind depression and other mental health issues. Constant stress can takeaway heavy toll on the body and mind off the person. One benefit of art therapy is that it can  help convert these negative emotions into positive ones.

Improvement in the problem solving behavior

People who struggle with mental health issues struggle with problem solving behavior. One of the benefits of art therapy is that It encourages and enhances problem solving behavior in people. Choosing the colors, the right kind of brush, the strokes, all these allow the person to engage in problem solving behavior at every step. This increases the confidence of people, not only about art but also about their daily life. 

Builds self esteem

This is the first thing which gets lost in the havoc of mental health issues. Art helps to build back the loose confidence and self esteem. 

Positive distractions

A distraction from ones everyday problems can be a welcome change for people suffering from mental health issues. Benefits of art therapy involve reduction of pain, irritability and stress levels of a person suffering from anxiety, depression etc. 
Reduce symptoms
Some of the symptoms of depression include lethargy, restlessness, loss of appetite, lack off sleep etc. Art has been known to reduce these symptoms and help get people back into the cycle of normal lives
Now that you are aware of all the benefits of art therapy, let’s look into the limitations of the same as well.

Limitations of the art therapy

Even though art therapy has a great variety of benefits, some of the research shows that the effectiveness of art therapy can be mixed. In most cases, these studies include a small number of patients or turn out to be inconclusive. Thus, there is a need for further research to explore how and when can art be most beneficial to the patient.

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Have you ever tried to use art therapy to de-stress yourself? According to you, which are the most appealing benefits of art therapy? What form of art therapy would you like to add in your life and why?
If you would like to share your story with everyone, please write it down in the comment section below. If you want me to feature your stories in my blog post, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels. I would be glad to share your story with the world.

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Frequently asked questions

How does art therapy improve mental health?
Art therapy causes release of dopamine which is the feel good hormone. Dopamine lowers depression and stress and increases confidence in a person. Art also increases the decision making skills of a person and elevates their self esteem.
Do you have to be an artist to benefit from art therapy?
No, anyone can use art therapy for their benefits. The primary benefit of art therapy is that one does not have to be an artist. The purpose of art therapy is to explore the hidden feelings and emotions through the process of creation of art, not by the finished work
How can art therapy help with PTSD?
The benefits of art therapy in terms of PTSD is that it allows for non verbal communication. It is very hard for PTSD sufferers to vocalize their inner fears and trauma. Art therapy provides such people with a safe environment where they can explore the traumatic event without having to talk about it. 
What are the benefits of art therapy for depression?
Art therapy increases self esteem and mindfulness of the person. The main benefits of art therapy are that it decreases trauma and fatigue while boosting the feel good factor and self confidence of a person.

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