Healing from Art – Expressive Art Therapy for mental wellbeing

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” —Pablo Picasso

Artwork are personalised depictions of a person’s creative, emotional and psychological state.  

Art therapy is a specialized area of mental healthcare that uses artistic expression and the creative processes to explore emotions, reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, and resolve other psychological conflicts. The American Art Therapy Association states that art therapy can be an effective mental health treatment for individuals who have experienced depression, trauma, medical illness, and social difficulties. Making art in therapy can be a way to achieve personal insight as well as healing.

Art – no matter whether you choose to create it yourself or simply observe and enjoy it – is a relaxing and inspiring activity. However, the particular benefits of artistic expression go much further than relaxation and enjoyment. Research indicates that art therapy can be very helpful in treating issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and even some phobias. It is a great way to express your emotions without words, process complex feelings and find relief. You don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits.

Art therapy, sometimes called creative arts therapy or expressive arts therapy, encourages people to express and understand emotions through artistic outlets and through the creative process.

Through various integrative methods and techniques, art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Kinaesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic ways of expression aid in better representation and communication, which can help to get around the limitations of language. Visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience and empowers individual to communicate and express better. It can be a great method to get an insight into an individual’s mind especially when they aren’t able to articulate their thoughts and emotions in the best possible manner.

Anyone who feels overwhelmed or pressured by the hectic world we live in should try art therapy. Creating art will give you a chance to slow down and explore the issues you may be having.

Since the focus is on the process and not the final product, art therapy is not about becoming a great artist but about finding meaning and connection in your life. All you need for it is a willingness to experiment.

Mental health professionals and experts agree that art therapy has many benefits, from boosting your self-esteem, and providing you a safe outlet to relieve your emotions, to giving you a sense of control over your life and helping you to get to know and understand yourself better. During the process of art creation, you will be taking yourself on a journey of self-discovery and exploration that will help you eliminate emotional roadblocks and setbacks, and learn how to communicate with yourself and others.

Though art therapy is a specialized technique used by professionals to aid progress of a client in treatment plan, it could also be used as a tool by individuals to help themselves. Drawing or painting could be a great way to let your emotions out and let them flow. Also, it could be a great stress buster. Clay modelling or DIY arts and crafts also could be a great way to unwind, focus your energy and could help in calming down nervous energies.

Self Help Artistic Expressive Techniques

  • Draw and Paint Your Mood and Emotions
  • Make Sculptures
  • Use Modelling Clay as an outlet for nervous energy and hyperactivity during anxiety
  • Paint to music
  • Draw in sand
  • Use colouring books (both for children and adults)
  • Make artworks, craftworks, dreamcatchers, crochet, knitwear etc.

Written by Dhvani Thakkar

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