How can Art Therapy benefit people with depression, anxiety, stress.
While sometimes people can speak about their thoughts and feelings very well, this is not always easy for lots of reasons: particularly if they are experiencing depressive symptoms such as low mood, self esteem and confidence. A person may be feeling isolated and not feel much like talking to other people about they feel. People sometimes describe that when they are depressed they feel like they are in a dark tunnel which appears difficult to escape from. When feeling like this it can be challenging to find a way to communicate with others, it may be that there are no words to accurately describe how you are.
Other people can find that no matter how much they talk about their feelings it does not appear to help and they need other ways to help express them more fully. They may be emotionally disconnected from what they are saying and need a bridge to help them to reconnect.
Art Therapy can benefit people in the above situations by providing a bridge between their inner thoughts and feelings and communication with others. Often clients in Art Therapy sessions comment that without creating a piece of art first in a session they would find it difficult to talk directly about themselves. The client can communicate using the art work to explain. The art work helps to open up communication and increase self awareness. Using the example of someone who feels they are trapped in a dark tunnel, this image could be utilised in an art therapy session as a starting point for the client to describe their experience.
Art Therapy encompasses a mixture of creating art and talking to facilitate self expression. Clients do not need any prior experience or skills in art. It is not always necessary to explain a piece of art work in words. Sometimes people directly express their feelings in the art work e.g. an angry picture, sadness etc. This kind of self expression can offer direct relief from feelings that could be overwhelming if left unexpressed. These kinds of images can sometimes be abstract and messy, like some emotions. There is no definitive or correct way for clients to create in Art Therapy sessions; clients can create whatever comes to mind or create spontaneously. The art therapist may sometimes make suggestions for the client to consider if they are struggling to create art.
Art Therapists are trained and experienced in both art and psychological therapy which enables them to work in partnership with the client to facilitate self expression and enhance communication. They have a thorough understanding of the effect that art materials and the art therapy process can have on people. Art Therapists utilise this dual training working in alliance with their clients to help identify and express emotions in a way that is comfortable and beneficial for the client. Art Therapists, also known as Art Psychotherapists complete a post graduate training in Art Psychotherapy. Prior to this training they have considerable experience in the field of health, social care or education. Art Therapists are regulated by the Health Professions Council and abide by the HPC and British Association of Art Therapist code of ethics.
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