Art therapy…what is that? Using art to conduct therapy? I think the term “art therapy” is very well-know in the world of psychotherapy, as an expressive medium that can be used to help clients communicate, overcome stress, and explore different aspects of their personalities. But, have you ever thought about using art as therapy for yourself?
The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy as “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 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.” I like the phrase “individuals of all ages!” When I hear about art therapy, it is usually in reference to a therapist working with a child. The therapist will try to draw information from the youngster in a way that may not be possible through words. But, then I think about the stress levels of adults, and the amount of conflict that many people have in their lives. Why not transition this from the doctor’s office to a regular person’s life?
In art therapy, patients are asked to focus on their inner experience – feelings, perceptions, and imagination. The therapy does not focus on any kind of technique in most cases. It is a creative outlet to release what is going on inside a person. This is awesome! Do you have the opportunity to regularly use a creative outlet to release the tension, strife, or stress in your life? You might say, “but, I am not creative.” You do NOT have to be talented or an artist to be creative! Do you draw? Do you take pictures? Do you knit? Do you scrapbook? Do you paint? Do you play an instrument? Do you sculpt or work with pottery? Do you cook? These are all vehicles for creativity and can create a calm and a purpose in your life that you may not have known was there. The difference between art therapy and many other types of therapy is the lack of words. Words are not used at all in art therapy. And I believe that this is profound. When we quiet our hearts and our minds and allow creativity to flow, we may be surprised by what we find and what we create – not only in the physical realm, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual realms as well. Now, go create something!