Art Therapy: Relief That Gets Your Creative Juices Flowing

Have you ever felt the calm of dragging paint across a fresh canvas? For many, the sensation is incredibly cathartic and rests the mind. This is just one way that the process of making art ladders into a larger relief technique known as art therapy.

What is art therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is defined as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families and communities through art-making, creative process, applied physiological theory and human experience with a psychotherapeutic relationship.”

So what does that mean? Art therapy helps people express themselves through non-verbal means, be it  drawing, painting, collage, sculpting and other mixed media creation. The kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual and symbolic creation of artwork can be healing.

Where is art therapy practiced?

Art therapists can work in a variety of settings and with people of all ages. A few common places they may work include:

  • Healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, psychiatric and rehabilitation centers
  • Schools
  • Veterinary practices
  • Senior communities

Who should consider art therapy?

People have achieved positive results in art therapy among many different conditions including:

  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Autism
  • Substance abuse
  • ADHD
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Anorexia or bulimia
  • Family or relationship hurdles

Additionally, art therapy can benefit not only the person receiving the therapy, but also their circle of connections and community.

Where can I get started?

Start by initiating the conversation with your primary care doctor. If you visit a psychiatrist or therapist, you can inquire about their services around this therapy too. Or check out the American Art Therapy Association’s helpful art therapist locator map.

Have you ever tried art therapy? Let us know about your experience with it in the comments below!

Photo credit: wuestenigel

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