art therapy

Art therapy: Here’s how it benefits your mental wellbeing

Art therapy is the use of artistic methods to address psychological issues and enhance mental healing. It brings a deeper introspection and is now an established tool to address unexpressed emotions which may be responsible for many psychological conditions in humans.

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” said the celebrated Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The legend delivered a masterpiece nugget of wisdom just like his numerous artworks cherished across the world. A splash of colours, a bold stroke of a brush and a vivid imagination are enough to metamorphose not just a plain canvas, but bring unimaginable joy, satisfaction and healing to the artist too.

As early humans, we expressed through cave arts. Children are known to indulge in artistic pursuits even before they begin a formal education. Whether you have the talent to create an impactful work of art or are just an admirer, dwelling in the world of art brings a certain amount of mental peace with it. And this is what art therapy is all about. It is the use of artistic methods to address psychological issues and enhance mental healing. It brings a deeper introspection and is now an established tool to address unexpressed emotions which may be responsible for many psychological conditions in humans. Art therapy works wonderfully well for children too, as it helps them express most creatively when they may not be able to verbalize their thoughts.

As most experts claim, mental wellbeing requires a focussed mind that does not dwell in the past or the future. Art therapy brings this much needed focus. Soulveda enlists how art therapy works and benefits our mental wellbeing.

Expressing emotions

For robust mental health, expression is important. We experience myriad of emotions and our neurotransmitters help these emotions translate into actions. But our cultural conditioning doesn’t allow us to acknowledge or express many of these emotions. This leads to our emotions getting bottled up within, challenging our mental wellbeing.

Art therapy helps here as it lets people explore self-expression. What you cannot verbalize, may come alive through art. Art therapy enables a person to delve deeper into their own psyche to find the connection. It helps develop new coping skills and a much better frame of mind. Not only does art help relax and rewind but also gives us an outlet for our expressions.

Supports mental healing

A study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association states that even less than an hour of creative activity is sufficient to lower stress levels, positively impacting mental health. As we channelise our creative energies though art, we are able to connect and reflect on our inner self. Drawing, sketching, doodling, painting or sculpting leads to new thought patterns that help people subconsciously find a resolution to their conflicts which they can then manifest in their emotions and behaviour.

Whether one is blessed with an artistic aptitude or not, art therapy can still bring about significant mental healing as it can be an active part of counselling. However, it is important to remember that art therapy differs from art classes – art therapy aims at helping people to freely express themselves through art whereas art classes are more technique oriented.

Art therapy for children

It is quite challenging to address a child’s psychological concerns as he or she may not be communicative enough. Yet, if the child is grappling with some emotional or mental problem, a timely intervention is critical. In such a scenario, art therapy gains relevance as children have a natural affinity to draw. They not only find it therapeutic, but also love the entire experience of expressing themselves through art. Kids that have undergone emotional challenges of some kind find art therapy particularly helpful. Any behavioural changes, anger issues, learning disabilities they face can be well addressed effectively through art therapy.

This form of therapy also helps in increasing their self-esteem, confidence and self-awareness. For children, it could even be the right tool to elevate confidence levels, reinforce positive mindsets and develop healthy minds, things essential for their holistic development.

Increased focus and mental well-being

Those facing emotional well-being challenges often find it difficult to go into counselling or continue it. For some, revisiting painful experiences may be difficult while for others, verbalizing their conflicts might be tough. Some may shy away from disclosing their deep seated fears and issues to the counsellor. Art therapy comes handy as it helps them to express, relate to their inner selves and seek resolutions without being overly direct. While any kind of creative pursuit brings increased focus and mindfulness to a person, art as therapy is an excellent way to bring a wandering mind’s focus back in the present moment.

Those who worry about the future or reminisce about the past a lot tend to feel more stressed.  A stressful mind lacks the agility, spontaneity and creativity required to function in the present moment. Art therapy is instrumental in healing the debilitated mind, making it function to its full potential again.

Help battle diseases

When a threatening physical illness affects a person, it leads to severe emotional challenges as well. Prolonged physical disease of any kind leads to anxiety and even depression in some. Battling severe diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases and other life-threatening conditions require continued support. Even when a person recovers, they require sustained therapeutic measures that facilitate mental healing.

Art therapy works wonders for patients facing challenges physically by supporting them mentally. Participating in art brings back the joy and satisfaction of creating something and being in control of life, even if for short durations. This form of therapy helps gain back the confidence and spirit to live fully once again.

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