Understanding The Benefits Of Art Therapy

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Prior to delving into the benefits of art therapy it is helpful to gain a basic understanding of what exactly art therapy is and how it came about. British artist, Adrian Hill, coined the term ‘art therapy’ in 1942 after discovering the healthful benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis. Unlike many traditional psychotherapeutic modalities, art therapy encourages participants to explore self-expression, emotions, and challenges through various art media rather than relying on verbal articulation. As defined by 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, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Nowadays, art therapy is known a psychotherapeutic approach that is heavily relied upon by mental health clinicians and is used in treating a variety of mental health ailments, spanning across all ages. Art therapy may be used as a form of treatment for individuals with any of the following conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cancer 
  • Psychological issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Ageing-related issues
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Family and/ or relationship problems

Art therapists are trained mental health clinicians that are educated in human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, and fine art. Art therapy sessions can be conducted in an individual or group setting. Art therapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with other therapeutic treatment modalities.

Benefits of Art Therapy

Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that is rooted in the notion that creativity and creative expression can foster healing and promote mental well being. There are many benefits of art therapy, some of which include, but are not limited to the following, provided by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association:

  • Promotes self-reliance, personal independence, and self-sufficiency
  • Enables an individual to verbally and nonverbally communicate emotions that may otherwise be abandoned 
  • Facilitates illuminating positive perspectives on one’s life
  • Encourages the development of health coping strategies
  • Promotes self-expression and self-discovery
  • Acts as an emotional release
  • Provides stress relief
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Increases resilience 

Every person is unique and different treatment modalities will resonate distinctly with each individual. Art therapy can benefit anyone, especially those that are artistically inclined and/ or those that may be uncomfortable with their ability to properly articulate their emotions. Art therapy can serve as a language for those who need another way to identify, express, process and/ or work though challenges, thoughts, and emotions.   

For Information and Support 

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