When you enjoy or interact with a piece of visual art, what kind of emotions begin to flow? Invariably, you feel a mixture of delight, delight and encouragement just from observing a masterpiece. Imagine the amount of mental and physical boost one can get from expressing themselves through art! A study of cancer patients found that engaging them in creative art (drawing) exercises improved their mental and emotional well-being by reducing the impact of negative emotions and replacing them with positive ones. positive. We can therefore easily admit that art therapy, whatever it may be, has a positive impact on the mental health of those who practice it.
Health Shots reached out to Suruchi Shah, mental health counselor, art therapist, transformation coach and author, to understand the benefits of art therapy for mental health.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that allows you to give vent to emotions and experiences that words sometimes fail to express. It’s not about getting the perfect end product; it’s about healing your inner wounds through the process of creating art.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that helps improve an individual’s overall well-being through the creative process of active art-making performed in a psychotherapy framework.
How does art help mental health?
Art therapy is a powerful medium because it facilitates creative expression to address psychological and emotional challenges in the following ways, according to the expert.
1. Art helps communicate complex feelings
“It helps individuals express complex emotions and feelings that verbal language fails to express, providing a safe outlet for catharsis. Through symbols and metaphors, clients can explore their inner world and better understand their thoughts and emotions,” explains the expert.
2. Art paves the way for personal growth
The act of creating art promotes empowerment, introspection and personal growth. It provides a judgment-free space to heal and build trust in therapeutic relationships.
3. Art helps reduce stress while promoting emotional healing
The calming and meditative qualities of art reduce stress, while its holistic engagement of the mind and body promotes overall well-being. This makes art therapy a versatile and effective tool for emotional healing and self-discovery.
Also read: Study suggests anti-inflammatory treatment can prevent heart problems in older people
4. Art helps people with depression
The expert adds: “Art therapy can benefit people suffering from depression by providing them with a non-verbal way to express their emotions, helping them explore and process their feelings of sadness, hopelessness or guilt . Creating art can improve self-esteem, providing a sense of accomplishment and purpose.”
Additionally, for cancer patients, art therapy helps manage the emotional distress associated with the disease. It promotes coping strategies, reduces anxiety, and improves overall quality of life by promoting self-expression and a sense of control in the face of medical challenges. Art can help them develop an overall positive and balanced outlook on life and not just focus on cancer. Both groups can find comfort in the therapeutic effects of art, strengthening their emotional well-being and resilience in the face of adversity.
What type of art helps mental health?
According to the expert, some common art therapy techniques that can be used:
“It’s not just about putting feelings into words, but about combining writing and the visual arts, often in the form of an artistic journal, to explore thoughts and emotions,” explains the expert.
Creating artwork by arranging images or cut-out materials can help people symbolically represent their feelings or experiences.
The expert says: “It involves working with clay, wire or other materials to create three-dimensional representations that represent emotions or inner experiences.”
4. Making masks
This uses the technique of using masks as a metaphor to hide or reveal aspects of one’s identity and emotions.
5. Creating mandalas
Mandala, as the name suggests, involves designing circular patterns or designs as a meditative and introspective practice.
Art therapy techniques can be adapted to meet specific therapeutic goals and are guided by the expertise and training of the therapist. The creative process allows individuals to access and express their inner thoughts and emotions, thereby promoting self-exploration and psychological healing.