Healing Through Art

Arts and crafts emerge from our innate human desire to creatively express emotions, serving as outlets for personal and shared experiences. This creative expression has fostered a sense of unity within society, bringing people together through an appreciation for beauty and the transformative power of the creative process.

According to a 2018 review of studies by Trusted Source, engaging in arts and crafts can profoundly impact mental well-being. It can uplift moods, boost self-confidence, act as a natural anti-depressant, and alleviate stress. Chronic stress, which often manifests as anger, anxiety, or irritability, can affect our overall health and well-being.

Engaging in arts and crafts provides a therapeutic outlet to channel and release these challenging emotions in a personal and expressive manner. Moreover, fostering social connectedness has proven to be a crucial component of mental health. Research from a 2017 study revealed that greater engagement with society plays a significant role in enhancing mental well-being and overall quality of life.

Considering Art Therapy

Artistic endeavors often evoke intricate and conflicting emotions among adults. Responses can range from dismissal and derision to admiration and sometimes even feelings of inadequacy for not possessing artistic skills. In contrast, young children effortlessly draw, sing, and dance without the burden of self-doubt. Sadly, as we mature, we often lose that sense of freedom and joy as we become overly self-conscious about our artistic abilities. We transition from active creators to passive spectators, missing out on the benefits of creative self-expression.

Enter art therapy—an exceptional form of guidance that reconnects individuals with the transformative power of creative practices. Art therapists provide support to help people navigate life’s challenges and uncertainties, allowing them to reclaim the joys of self-expression. With over 6,000 credentialed art therapists in the United States alone, this profession is rapidly growing globally, bringing the therapeutic benefits of artistic engagement to communities far and wide.

Why Art Therapy in Trauma and Restoration from Grief?

Extensive research reveals that trauma leaves imprints within the brain, stored as sensory experiences consisting of fragmented images and sensations. These scattered fragments make individuals more susceptible to frequent and overwhelming triggers. Although not all survivors may perceive grief as trauma, many still grapple with heightened fear and instability as attachments and routines are disrupted and shattered. This added anxiety and loss of security compounds the distress of grief, intricately intertwining with the very fabric of even the most resilient and supported individuals.

Art therapy, a sensory practice, offers a conduit to externalize traumatic memories, releasing tensions and facilitating the construction of a more coherent and collective narrative of the traumatic experience. Engaging in the kinesthetic experience of art-making fosters a relaxation response, bolstering one’s ability to endure and navigate stressors. The resulting artwork serves as a symbolic representation and container for the effects of traumatic stress, aiding individuals in integrating their experiences and emotions into their life stories.

Art therapy encourages individuals to tap into their creativity and inner strengths, forging alternative responses to stressors and challenges. Art-making becomes a pleasurable experience, addressing emotional numbing resulting from trauma and alleviating the burden of overwhelming pain. By reconnecting with soothing, positive emotions and finding an outlet to express grief or re-experience traumatic memories, individuals uncover targeted, specialized techniques that foster healing.

Things to consider

You Don’t Have to Be Artistic

Art therapy is a therapeutic approach that caters to people of all ages, including children, teens, and adults, regardless of their artistic abilities. Research has shown that art’s mere presence can positively affect mental health. For instance, a study conducted in 2017 proved that displaying art in hospital settings contributed to a more comforting environment for patients. It also played a role in improving socialization skills and maintaining an identity outside of the hospital setting.

It’s Not the Same as an Art Class

Many people often wonder how art therapy differs from an art class. While an art class is focused on teaching techniques or creating specific finished products, art therapy aims to help clients explore their inner experiences. Art therapy clients are encouraged to focus on their perceptions, imagination, and underlying emotions in their art-making process. They create art that expresses their inner world instead of merely creating something that reflects the exterior world.

Is art therapy for everyone?

Art therapy may not be the ideal therapeutic approach for everyone. Although artistic talent or creativity is not a prerequisite, some individuals who consider themselves uncreative or non-artistic may encounter resistance or skepticism.

Moreover, while art therapy has several proven benefits, it may not be effective for all mental health conditions. For instance, a meta-analysis revealed that art therapy may not necessarily be effective in reducing the positive or negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy Activities

Art therapy can be an effective complement to traditional mental health treatments. It offers a range of benefits, such as managing behaviors, processing complex emotions, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving self-esteem.

Here are a few specific benefits of art therapy:

The creative process of making art can help individuals acknowledge and recognize their innermost feelings that may have remained buried in their subconscious.

Making art can provide individuals with a feeling of self-accomplishment, which can be valuable in improving their self-appreciation and confidence.

Emotional release
One of the greatest benefits of art therapy is that it provides individuals with a healthy outlet for expressing and letting go of all their feelings and fears. Complex emotions that sometimes cannot be expressed in words, such as sadness and anger, can be released through art-making.

Stress relief
Art therapy can be used to relieve stress and relax the mind and body, making it an effective way to cope with anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma.

Finding a therapist

There are distinct advantages to working with a licensed therapist in art therapy. A professional can tailor each activity to meet your unique needs, ensuring a personalized and effective therapeutic experience. Additionally, if art therapy sessions are conducted in a group setting, they can foster healthy connections with others, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals fighting depression.

Most importantly, it’s crucial to engage in art therapy only if you genuinely desire it. Expressing oneself through art can be a deeply revealing process, sometimes as emotionally challenging as verbal expression. It’s completely okay if you don’t feel ready to try art therapy at this time.

While therapy can be costly, it’s worth exploring if you qualify for reduced rates or if there is additional information available to help you access the support you need.

Self Care tips

Mental health issues affects roungly 20% of Americans annuall, it can be serious and debilitaing. While there are some methods you can practice to help with your mood. You can contact your healthcare provider or someone at your local community health clinic for help.

Support someone

Self care tips you can do at home or at a lower cost. If you are feeling too overwhelmed, please check out the resources information below to find low cost therapy or counselling near you.