Benefits of Art Therapy
Research confirms that the creative process of making art and artistic self-expression has multiple benefits for individuals of all ages – children, adolescents, adults, seniors, groups, and families.
Art therapy has been found to help:
- Reduce stress
- Enhance self-awareness
- Gain insight
- Develop interpersonal skills
- Manage behavior
- Resolve conflicts
- Increase self-esteem
Art Therapy Uses
Often integrated with or used as a compliment to models of counseling and psychotherapy, art therapy is used to treat:
- Emotional difficulties
- Mental health disorders
- Substance abuse
- Relationships problems (family and others)
- Domestic violence
- Social deficits
- Learning disabilities
- Brain injuries
Art Therapy vs. Art Classes
While traditional art classes utilize the same techniques and skills as art therapy – i.e. drawing, painting, sculpting, and photograghy – the focus in an art therapy session is the inner experience – that is, one’s feelings, perceptions, and imaginative processes. As opposed to an art class which develops expression of what one sees on the outside or in the world, art therapy works to express and develop what comes from inside a person. As such, art therapy is a powerful means of self-expression and communication, allowing individuals to ‘speak’ without the use of words or language.
Newly Researched Uses of Art Therapy
Today, art therapy is increasingly being used in the following areas:
- Cancer Treatment, where art therapy is used to improve the process of readjustment involved in the change, uncertainty, and loss associated with having cancer.
- Bereavement, where art therapy is used to help bereaved families and children cope with grief, loss, death, and the process of mourning.
- Disasters: In the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster, art therapists work with individuals on venting their emotions and responding to/expressing their experiences through art.
- Incarceration: Art therapy is increasingly used in correctional facilities and prisons to help inmates deal with issues such as self-defeating behaviors, barriers to recovery, fears, treatment goals, self-esteem, positive thinking, and confidence building.