Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough -The state of our mental health is critical to our quality of life and well-being. There are different types of help to address mental health conditions, and these can include assisting those in need through individual, group, and/or family sessions. An art therapist can provide services via private practice, at community clinics, in crisis centers, at psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, at senior communities, forensic institutions, as well as at Veteran’s clinics.
Traditional forms of therapy might focus on verbal articulation regarding mental health concerns. This approach is very successful and well proven. Research certainly supports its credibility and those who are professionals in this field. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to mental health treatment, and for some, the more tools in their box and support systems in the place, the better they alleviate their condition. Art therapy integrates the mind, body, and spirit that distract from the verbal component. Language can be limited. Therefore, art therapy targets kinesthetic, symbolic, sensory, and perceptual opportunities that fill in the gaps of a person’s voice.
Art therapy didn’t become a curriculum until about 1940 even though it has been practiced for centuries as way to communicate, heal and share self-expression. Examples of art therapy can be making meditative or digital paintings, knitting and crafting projects, making collages, or simply just painting and drawing. There are so many creative options on a spectrum of being structured to completely spontaneous.
Through this type of therapy people can experience the combination of art and psychology that can help explore emotions and unresolved traumas or experiences, for managing emotions, decreasing stress and anxiety, and to help foster self-worth and confidence. It’s an activity of self-expression so a person can release their inner thoughts and feelings. Art therapy releases positivity and appreciation for what has been created. It is peaceful and/or calming or it can be just letting yourself work out your current state of mind through the activity.
Effectiveness of art therapy is on a case-by-case basis. A person truly wouldn’t know its influence until performed. Creative outlets have the potential to open up ways to let your mind, body, and spirit and reveal unknown areas we aren’t able to vocalize. Self-expression is a way to let the mind, body and spirit release what it is feeling and maybe even underlying feelings that need to surface. There’s help for everyone and finding the best approach is part of the healing process.