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We have all been in a situation where we can’t find the words to express how we feel. Sometimes it’s with friends and family, sometimes with a partner and sometimes, with our own selves. We are complex, layered human beings. We feel things we didn’t think we were capable of feeling. When all these unspoken thoughts and emotions accumulate one on top of another over time, life gets tough. We all need to find a way to deal with, confront and process our internal turmoil in a safe way. Step in, Art Therapy!
In this article, The Artment looks at how you can cultivate a therapeutic artistic practise and the mind-blowing magic of art therapy!
Also see: Life is Art, Let’s Live in Colour
What is art therapy?
Humans have been making art since the beginning of time. Different art movements rise and fall but at the centre of their existence is human thought and emotion. Art Therapy is a process that strengthens the bond between humans and their art by using painting, pottery and clay-making, sculpting, crafts, collage-making, sewing - really any kind of visual creative practise as a door to deeper emotions and problems.
Art therapy presents an exciting way to transfer emotions onto a visual medium. Art therapy practitioners believe that when we are painting or colouring or sculpting, the brain loosens its defences and lowers its guard. We are able to talk more freely about things that are bothering us or emotions we have chosen to ignore because they are too difficult to confront.
Art therapy aims at helping people heal and come to terms with their circumstances, through art. Under thick layers of paint lies raw, untouched emotion which, if unearthed, can foster growth, understanding and happiness.
Who is an art therapist?
Art therapists are clinically certified to use artistic mediums with patients in helping them explore their inner turmoil. Most art therapists have studied psychology or an allied discipline and acquired a degree in the same.
Art therapists believe that only a patient can diagnose their own painting. They invite patients to look at what they have created and find their own meaning and intent in it.
It is believed that only the recipient of art therapy can diagnose his or her own painting. An art therapist invites the patient to talk about their experience of creating art and through that, process different layers of deep-seated emotions.
Also see: The Art of Unity - #BLM Through Art
Why should you try art therapy?
One of the most common myths about art therapy is that you have to be a trained or accomplished artist in order to participate. This is simply not true. Art therapy is about letting your emotions out on paper or any other material in a free-flowing, unhindered manner, without feeling like you have to be good at it or create an exceptional piece of art. Through art therapy, some of us may be able to learn that it’s okay to not be perfect, and that imperfection is just as beautiful and meaningful!
If you’re someone who finds it tough to self-express through words and language, art therapy may be the right way to go for you. However, there are no such prerequisites. Art therapy is open and welcoming to all. You should try art therapy if you’re looking for a creative outlet to unleash complicated emotions that cause unnecessary stress and anxiety in your life.
Art therapy may also have numerous benefits for you if you are a creative person. If you work as an artist, writer, painter, interior designer, advertising professional, marketer or in any other kind of creative profession, you will take to art therapy naturally since it employs your creativity to help you heal.
However, whoever you are, art therapy has something for you. Try art therapy to find an alternative way to express yourself, to feel better about your emotions or to simply try something new in life.
What are the benefits of art therapy?
The results of art therapy reveal themselves in subtle but powerful ways. While there are some proven benefits of art therapy, what you take from it depends on your level of engagement. Here are some possible outcomes of sustained art therapy:
We all have certain harsh notions about our habits, bodies and behaviour. By helping us understand that who we are and what we do doesn’t always have to be perfect, art therapy helps us appreciate and be kinder to ourselves, thereby healing many years of harsh conditioning.
During art therapy sessions, you are in full control of what you put on the page or how you use the art material. This assurance of control helps us overcome feelings of helplessness.
Art therapy is aimed at cultivating an attitude of positivity. Emotions are splashed across the canvas and conversations brew over open cans of paint, charging the atmosphere with lightness and positivity.
Art therapy helps cultivate self-awareness as well. Focussing on creating something new gives us a designated space and time to think about our complex emotions. As a result, we become more aware of what we are feeling and why.
Art therapy is incredibly cathartic. Seeing our emotions manifest in a physical form right in front of our eyes, or seeing them pour out without any obstacles can clear our headspace for what actually matters in life - health, happiness and togetherness.
Anybody who works in a creative discipline knows that being inspired helps our souls be more creative - where that extends into painting, writing, designing or creative problem solving. Art therapy, by virtue of being rooted in a centuries-old artistic tradition, helps us stay inspired by ourselves and life.
Art therapy is a process that is available to all those who wish to reap its benefits. But remember, that the simple act of redecorating or beautifying your home, painting for fun or exploring different types of art can be the much-needed therapy we need to cope with the COVID era.
Here are The Artment’s recommendations for DIY art therapy!