Psychological Benefits of Art Therapy

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on February 28, 2012 10:43 am

“Beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities…” ~ Plato

As parents, when our child falls ill, or  is prone to a disorder or a discomfort; we are diligent to seek for remedies and constructive answers to aide in that time of discomfort.   As a parent, I can reassure you that I will do everything in my power to gain the best care for my child’s needs.

Whether we are searching for answers for the physical or the psychological; as parents we yearn for positively constructive remedies to solve our child’s discomforts.

Art therapy is one of many modalities that is capable of helping guide your child to health and happiness. Art therapy is an expressive language of the conscious and the unconscious minds.    The pursuit of art can be accomplished through various mediums including:  sculpting, drawing, mosaics, painting, clay making, music and variety of art modalities.  Art therapy is instrumental in assessing and treating a variety of psychological, as well as, physically disorders.

“Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, families, veterans, and people with chronic health issues to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems; substance abuse and addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.” (American Art Therapy Association, 2012, Online)

Art therapy is not the be-all and end-all for all mental health challenges.  Neither is art therapy an instrument that is capable of spontaneously curing, healing, correcting, restoring, or resolving an individual’s mental health needs; rather it is similar to a majority of psychotherapy modalities, it is an instrument that can help guide and promote psychological health and wellbeing.  Therapy in general is something that takes time, patience, and perseverance. The length of therapy really depends upon a patient’s/client’s needs, desires, intellectual understand, and the extent with which an individual is either placed or seeking out therapeutic care .
THE BENEFITS OF THERAPY ON THE LIFE OF A CHILD

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” ~ Pablo Picasso

 

➡     Therapy is capable of promoting self-expression, feelings, and emotions.

➡     It has an ability to facilitate positive perspectives on one’s life.

➡     It is capable of promoting a sense of personal independence, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency.

➡     Therapy has an ability to help a child work through difficult experiences.

➡     It allows a child to verbally and nonverbally communicate emotions that might otherwise be abandoned or sealed from society.

➡     Therapy instills constructive techniques to self-manage.

➡     It can increase one’s awareness and orientation (i.e. persons, places, dates, and times)

➡     It is capable of facilitating and developing strategies for hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and finger dexterity and speed.

➡     It encourages the development of healthy coping strategies.

➡     Therapy can facilitate insight, empathy, and acceptance of other’s life challenges.

➡     It is capable of promoting problem-solving skills.

➡     Art therapy is capable of exploring, managing, and providing insight into traumatic experiences.

➡     A child receiving therapy is encouraged to develop interpersonal skills

➡     Therapy empowers and gives a voice to those receiving therapy.

➡     It is capable of helping a child increase their attention-span, while decreasing any festering frustrations.

 

“Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.”

(American Art Therapy Association, 2012, Online)

 

WHAT EVIDENCE SUPPORTS ART THERAPY?
“Numerous case studies have reported that art therapy benefits patients with both emotional and physical illnesses. Case studies have involved many areas, including burn recovery in adolescents and young children, eating disorders, emotional impairment in young children, reading performance, childhood grief, and sexual abuse in adolescents. Studies of adults using art therapy have included adults or families in bereavement, patients and family members dealing with addictions, and patients who have undergone bone marrow transplants, among others. Some of the potential uses of art therapy to be researched include reducing anxiety levels, improving recovery times, decreasing hospital stays, improving communication and social function, and pain control.” (American Cancer Society, 2012, Online)

Research has shown that art therapy has been used quite successfully to help children learn to effectively communicate, have improved concentration, improved behaviors and develop closer relationships.  It has shown to improve moods, promote relaxation, and decrease disruptive behaviors and attitudes.  “Randomised controlled trial research shows that art therapy helped improve coping strategies.” (Penny Brohn Cancer Care, 2011, Online)

 

ART THERAPY
A child may thrive on the ability to have a free-flow of verbal and nonverbal expressions. A child’s empowerment occurs when they are capable of expressing their troubles, concerns, and challenges in a nonthreatening, non-hostile, and noninvasive therapeutic session. When a child is empowered they are given a torch of emotional freedom.  While talk therapy offers an avenue for verbal communication; Art therapy is capable of simultaneously looking at verbal and nonverbal spectrums on of life.

REFERENCES
American Art Therapy Association (2009) Who is helped by art therapy. Retrieved February 26, 2012, from http://www.americanarttherapyassociation.org/upload/whoarearttherapists2009.pdf

American Cancer Society (2012) Find support & treatment, The most reliable cancer treatment information: Art therapy. Retrieved February 26, 2012, from http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffectsComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/MindBodyandSpirit/art-therapy

Mullin, J., Grandin, T. (2012) Drawing autism. New York: Mark Batty Publisher

Penny Brohn Cancer Care (2011) Art therapy. Retrieved February 25, 2012, from http://www.nhs.uk/ipgmedia/national/Penny%20Brohn%20Cancer%20Care/Assets/Arttherapy(PBCC).pdf
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Braman, O. R. (1997) The oppositional child. Indiana: Kidsrights

Bloch, D. (1993) Positive self-talk for children, Teaching self-esteem through affirmations, A guide for parents, teachers, and counselors. New York:  Bantam Books

Deaver, S., & McAuliffe, G. (2009). Reflective visual journaling during art therapy and counseling internships: A qualitative study. Reflective Practice, 10(5), 615-632.

Gussak, D. (2006) Effects of art therapy with prison inmates: A follow-up study. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 33(3), 188-198

Ponteri, A., K. (2001). The effect of group art therapy on depressed mothers and their children. Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 18(3), 148- 157.

Smeijsters, H., & Cleven, G. (2006). The treatment of aggression using arts therapies in forensic psychiatry: Results of a qualitative inquiry. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 33(1), 37-58

Walsh, S. M., Martin, S. C., Schmidt, L. A. (2004) Testing the efficacy of a creative-arts intervention with family caregivers of patients with cancer. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 36: 214-219.

 




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

8 comments on “Psychological Benefits of Art Therapy”

  1. Art therapy can be a healthy outlet for children to let out their emotions. It aids children through difficult situations, helps facilitate positive perspectives, and increases awareness and orientation. Thanks for sharing this article.

  2. Art therapy is a very good treatment, and there are lots of advantages in this therapy. I did not know much about Art Therapy, but by reading this blog of yours, I got all the information and got the benefit of it. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I am appreciating it very much!

  3. yes! This is a healing approach for children especially effective because some experiences are too painful to put into words, or the child doesn’t know how to express it verbally but art is freeing in that they can express feelings through pictures, colors, shading…I also use it in womens retreats where I encourage participants to find a way to connect with whats going on in their inner world and bring it to life on paper. I’ve found this to be healing and freeing! It’s not a magic cure all approach…it’s a healthy way to respond and process our experience. Great article!

    1. Dear Cindy Ricardo,

      Good evening, I thank you for taking the time to review and offer a comment on my latest article. I totally agree that “this (art therapy) is a healing approach for children…” While i have never used it in a retreat setting, your approach gives me a few ideas.

      Again, thank you for sharing your feedback, as well as, reviewing and commenting on my last article.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  4. Tracy says:

    Thank you for your inspiring article. I am always intrigued by the various techniques and therapies utilized by psychologists. Using art as a means to explore someone’s thoughts and issues is such a noninvasive and creative technique. I look forward to future articles exploring other forms of therapy. Thank you again.

    1. Dear Tracy,

      I agree; before entering the field of psychology, my impression was all psychologists, counsellors, and psychotherapists used “talk therapy.” The truth is, there are various modalities with which one may apply his or her strengths. The field allows for the therapist to focus on his or her interest rather than placing everyone into a singular pinhole. It is awesome that we are not only allowed to follow various theorists, expressionists, and modalities, but that we can help develop the field through our own philosophies and professional work.

      Tracy, thank you for your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  5. Steph says:

    Dr. Asa Don Brown,

    Thank you very much for sharing this interesting information. I found it a great read. Your articles are always enjoyable to read.

    Much thanks.

    1. Dear Steph,

      Thank you for your very kind feedback. I am pleased that my articles are leaving a positive impression upon your life.

      May you have a truly blessed day.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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