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Can art therapy heal people?

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M Unity M Unity
03-09-2020 8 mins read

Do you remember times from your childhood when you colored grass with pink, sunshine with green, or drew an orange dream house?

art-therapy-can-heal-people

When nobody was telling you that in the real world grass is green and the sun is yellow?

Do you remember how much you enjoyed drawing ‘your way’?

Do you remember how you felt? Complete, happy, confident, you enjoyed every single stroke of your brush or pen.

But then life happened and you started to feel lost, anxious, and depressed. I would like to give you an alternative to healing. There is more than just traditional psychology sessions. Allow me to show you how art therapy can heal you.

What is art therapy?

When I was getting my degree in social work, one thing that stuck with me was ´Tabula rasa’. It means a Scraped tablet.

It is in Latin and stands for ‘clean slate’ in the theory of knowledge and psychology.

A team of authors in social psychology defines it as a “supposed condition that empiricists have attributed to the human mind before ideas have been imprinted on it by the reaction of the senses to the external world of objects.” Mouth full, I know.

Simply put - you were born as a beautiful blank sheet. You were living and seeing the world through your inner truth.

As you were growing up, people and society started to tell you that grass must be green and the sun is always yellow.

You either stopped to paint your dream world and accepted the ‘normal’, or you decided to be different (read: yourself) and reject the standards imposed by the majority.

In both cases, you might have felt ‘odd’ or like an ‘outsider’. I understand that. I’ve been there myself. When I was forced to color inside the lines or follow the ‘this is how it's done’, I felt like I was living a lie. Yes, I used pretty colors, but it looked bland to me and I was anxious and sad.

On the other hand, when I followed my own coloring patterns, I felt so happy, whole, and vital…. but I’ve been told that I’m odd and weird and that I should stop doing that.

I decided that I’d rather be considered weird or ‘different’, than not living a vital and happy life! I decided to allow my art to make me feel happy, vital, and resilient. And I’m teaching the same to my clients.

Art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve mental health and well-being.

Have you ever built something? Maybe a birdhouse? Or a shed? Or maybe you restored a vintage car to its former glory (or better!). How did it make you feel? Do you remember that amazing feeling when your masterpiece was done? Did you feel proud? Or perhaps overjoyed?

It feels so amazing and fulfilling creating something with your hands, your body, or your mind.

You can express your emotions, express who you are, and you can do it YOUR WAY! Just ask Frank Sinatra! You deserve to live your life to the fullest, just like in that song.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy utilizes the exact same process - the process of creating art to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness.

Its technique is rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being.

This method can treat many psychological disorders in children and adults.

How does art therapy work?

Let me first start saying, that even if you don’t consider yourself as an artistically expressive type or ‘talented’, art therapy can help you to reduce stress, clear your mind, and improve your mental and physical health.

Art therapy uses drawing, painting, coloring, sculpting, or collage. You can use your hands, your body, or tools. Once you are done, I will help you to analyze what you made, what it means to you, and how it makes you feel. Through this journey, you will find obstacles and challenges that are affecting your physical and mental health.

There is no age limit, gender, or social restrictions when it comes to art therapy. People of all ages can benefit from it. And so can you.

Some research suggests that just the presence of art can play a part in boosting mental health. That’s one of the reasons why there are paintings in hospitals and doctors' offices.

Art therapy has been successfully used to help children and adults to learn how to communicate non-verbally. By being able to express their feelings, thoughts, and emotions, their mood improved, as well as their behaviors and concentration. Not to mention attaining better and closer relationships with their caretakers.

What is the difference between art therapy and art class?

I get this question a lot! And I understand why.

This is my answer: Art class teaches you techniques for creating a specific item. You are creating something from your outer world, the world around you, the world you can see.

What I do with art therapy is letting you express yourself and focus on your inner state and experiences.

During my sessions, I encourage my clients to express their inner world, their feelings, emotions, and deepest thoughts.

I want people to express themselves freely and without any judgment. Not from society, not from themselves. Judgment only creates more negativity. That’s why I always create a ‘safe space’ for my clients to be able to do so.

What are the benefits of art therapy?

Have you ever felt so stressed and sad that you couldn’t even express it with words? Have you ever looked for an outlet for your bottled up emotions?

We all have tried alcohol or drugs or other substances to numb those feelings. Some of you might have tried to use heavy weights or hours on the treadmill to feel better.

This approach will bring you short term relief from the negativity, but as soon as you stop doing what you are doing, they will start rushing back.

With art therapy, you will be able to give a form or a color to all the negativity you cannot express with your words or otherwise. You will be able to step back and analyze it, and hence you will take back control of your inner state.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, only 45 minutes of creative activity can reduce your stress, regardless of artistic experience or talent.

Communicating and expressing emotions verbally and nonverbally can be challenging in some situations and for some people. It is easier to hide those feelings and emotions from society, and from ourselves - to feel and look ‘normal’.

But you know as well as I do - these fake feelings do not last.

Art therapy sessions help you to become YOU again, to find your inner truth and your authentic voice.

Once you can see your ‘demons’ - so to speak -, you will be able to let them go, be free from them and live a happy and vital life.

My clients developed a strong, resilient mindset that allows them to face any challenges and obstacles life throws at them. I can help you as well.

“Of all of our inventions for communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.” - Walt Disney

Bottom Line: Your thoughts are connected to your inner self. Your experiences and being able to share them (even though only with yourself), have a big role in this connection.

These experiences helped co-create your world. We will shift them towards helping you to build a life you always wanted.

Allow me to shine a little light into the darkness you might be feeling. The world needs to hear and see the amazing human being you are.

It’s time to create your biggest masterpiece - you.

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