Art therapy is one of the effective therapeutic methods often applied to children. It is a way to improve mental health by viewing art as a form of communication, helping individuals express and explore their emotions and thoughts.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy, also known as Art therapy, integrates various psychological therapeutic techniques with the creative process to improve and enhance mental well-being, bringing joy and happiness to individuals. According to the American Art Therapy Association, this therapy is considered a creative art approach to accessing and engaging with mental health, promoting mental and physical well-being.
Through art therapy, individuals who have difficulty expressing emotions verbally can easily convey their thoughts through various art forms, without relying on words. In simpler terms, art therapy sees art as a communication tool, enabling individuals to express their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
During the application of this therapy, patients use materials such as chalk, brushes, pens to create drawings, design gifts, make cards, or engage in calligraphy, paper cutting, and collage. This is the best way to comfortably express emotions, thoughts, and hidden depths of the mind without the need for excessive verbal expression.
You can share your emotions through any form you desire, and of course, you don’t need to have exceptional artistic talent. Individuals of all ages, genders, and professions can successfully apply art therapy. In this form of therapy, you only need to focus on the creative process and the final product you have created. With proper application and perseverance over a certain period, you can gain a deeper understanding and empathy for yourself.
Art is a form of communication and self-expression that has existed for thousands of years. However, it was not until the 1940s that art therapy truly became a therapeutic program, healing the soul and gaining widespread application in recent times.
In a study conducted by Stine L. Nielsen and colleagues in 2017, it was found that displaying art in hospitals contributes significantly to creating a safe space and environment for patients. Experts have recognized that this plays an important role in the improvement and social integration process of each patient.
Who should consider art therapy?
Anyone can apply the art therapy method. You don’t need to have a talent for painting, singing, or any specific artistic field to benefit from this therapeutic approach. Therefore, children, adolescents, the elderly of all ages, professions, and different backgrounds can apply this method.
Art therapy focuses on the psychological development process through creativity rather than aiming to create exceptional works of art. Anyone facing mental health issues and wanting to overcome them can consider applying this form of therapy.
Specifically, some target groups that may benefit from art therapy include:
- Individuals with mental health issues: Most cases of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, emotional disorders, and behavioral disorders can be considered for art therapy.
- Individuals with learning disabilities: Children with learning disabilities may face difficulties in reading, writing, and calculations. Applying art therapy to these cases helps patients express their emotions and thoughts without relying on words.
- Individuals with autism spectrum disorder: Art therapy can help individuals with autism improve their emotions, negative behaviors, and gradually enhance their communication skills.
- Individuals with memory loss: Engaging in the creative process through art helps relax the brain, reduce stress and anxiety. Over time, it can aid in restoring a sense of personal identity and improving memory effectively.
- Individuals with chronic illnesses or in the final stages of life: Art allows individuals to unleash their creativity, freely express themselves, and help patients improve their emotions, shift their thoughts towards positivity and optimism.
- Individuals who find it difficult to express emotions verbally.
- Victims of violence or sexual abuse.
- Individuals experiencing difficulties in relationships, such as parent-child relationships, peer relationships, and more.
- Those who desire to develop their spiritual life or explore themselves more deeply.
If you are experiencing the aforementioned issues and have tried various different approaches without achieving the desired results, you may consider exploring and applying art therapy as a potential treatment method. Even if you do not belong to the mentioned target groups, you can still experience this therapy to help yourself discover interesting things, relax, and gain a deeper understanding of your own self.
Forms of Art Therapy
Art therapy can be conducted in various different forms. Most artistic disciplines can be applied for therapeutic purposes, allowing for the exploration of emotions and the unconscious aspects of human beings. Specifically, some commonly applied forms include:
Drawing and Painting
Drawing and painting are the most commonly used forms of art therapy today. With this approach, individuals can feel comfortable and free to create anything they desire. They can unleash their creativity and express images and colors that resonate with them.
When employing this art form, you can use colored pencils, brushes, pens, or even your own fingers to create a painting that satisfies you the most. If you find it challenging to start or don’t know where to begin, the therapist will help you find inspiration and determine the subject matter for your artwork.
Some commonly applied methods for artistic drawing include:
- Pointillism: This method involves using tools such as crayons, pencils, or pens to draw simple still-life images or specific shapes. You start by lightly sketching the desired image and then use the pen to continuously dot along the drawing.
- Doodle Art: The tools commonly used for this method are ballpoint pens and pencils. You need to choose a picture, a theme, a character, or anything that you like. Start by simplistically redrawing it to create humorous and adorable images. Then add some illustrations and colors to finish your artwork.
- Coloring: For those who want to immerse themselves in the flow of colors, therapeutic coloring books for adults can be a suitable choice. Focusing on colors and meticulously filling in each small detail can help you alleviate fatigue and worries.
Collage is also considered an effective form of art therapy that many people have successfully applied. What you need to do is search for and collect images and drawings that express your emotions and desires. You can then cut and arrange them together to create an artistic piece that reflects your individuality.
Additionally, you can also use inspirational and motivational artworks, utilizing images that represent your goals, dreams, and aspirations. During the collage process, you will experience a sense of freedom and comfort as you engage in activities you love, leading to the discovery of interesting aspects about yourself.
If you’re not particularly interested in painting, you can try the experience of becoming a photographer. This form of therapy is often conducted in groups, where participants spend time studying, exploring, and creating in the field of photography. In most cases, this art therapy form does not involve significant psychological intervention, or if it does, it is minimal. The majority of participants rely on their own experiences to create their unique artistic works.
However, it is important to understand that photography as an art therapy form is not solely focused on taking photos and creating images but also involves the process of observing, admiring famous artistic photographs, and conveying emotions to engage in discussions and express opinions about them. When applying this form, you gain more opportunities to perceive the outside world in a vibrant and multi-dimensional way.
With the remarkable development of technology in the current era of Industry 4.0, you can fully utilize convenient software to meet your needs for drawing and photo manipulation. If you are familiar with a computer keyboard or a smartphone, you can download applications such as MediBang Paint Pro, Adobe Photoshop, or Paint to unleash your artistic creativity.
This form of artistic therapy is suitable for individuals with busy schedules, limited access to art classes, or those who prefer not to work with traditional art tools. You can use these software programs to create art whenever you have free time or when you feel stressed and pressured.
Embroidery and sewing are also considered effective forms of artistic therapy. You can use needles, threads, and fabric to create objects, tapestries, or clothing styles that you love. Working with fabric to create artistic pieces allows you to experience the softness and delicacy that can be difficult to achieve with traditional pen and paper.
Note: While providing alternative phrasing, I also made some adjustments for clarity and natural flow in the English translation.
What are the advantages and benefits of art therapy?
As mentioned above, art therapy is a therapeutic method that can greatly improve mental well-being and help individuals gain a better understanding of themselves, thereby increasing their self-esteem. Currently, this form of therapy is widely applied in most psychological support facilities and has received numerous positive responses from patients.
So, what are the specific benefits and advantages of art therapy?
Facilitates expression of emotions without words
Not all emotions and thoughts can be effectively conveyed through verbal language. Some emotions are difficult to put into words and cannot be fully expressed through sentences. This is why art therapy is seen as an important tool for utilizing and developing emotions. It can be applied in various cases, especially with children who may not yet know how to express their thoughts through words.
Develops healthy coping skills
According to psychological experts, art can help individuals change their reactions to life events. Using artistic forms during challenging situations or when experiencing negative emotions can assist in effectively resolving issues.
Boosts confidence and self-esteem
The process of artistic creation allows you to listen to the voice of your heart and gain a deeper understanding of your desires. Additionally, you can freely unleash your creativity and express yourself through your artistic creations. Through this process, you gain a clearer understanding of your self-worth, thereby increasing confidence and enhancing self-esteem.
Explores creativity and imagination
Perhaps you have never created or produced your own artwork before. Maybe you believed that you lacked talent and ability to be creative and imagine interesting and innovative things. However, through art therapy, you can discover your own potential and realize that you have the capacity to be creative if you truly focus and dedicate yourself to it.
Improves motor skills
When applying art therapy, you need to use your body to express things that cannot be spoken in words. You need to engage in physical movement and have good coordination to overcome your own barriers and achieve specific goals. This form of therapy is particularly suitable for those facing difficulties in performing body movements or experiencing obstacles in coordinating them.
Art promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and anxiety
Engaging in artistic activities requires you to focus your mind in order to perceive and create your own artworks. As a result, the brain begins to relax, reducing stress, anxiety, and worries, providing you with a sense of comfort, joy, and energy. Furthermore, immersing yourself in the artistic space will also create a sense of safety, making it easier to dispel concerns and uncertainties about life.
Art therapy can be effectively applied to a wide range of cases involving mental health issues or even for individuals seeking deeper self-exploration. Hopefully, through the information provided in this article, readers will gain a better understanding of this therapeutic approach and its effective applications.