Uses of Art Therapy
Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making which in a professional relationship is aimed for people experiencing trauma, illness, challenges and those who seek personal development. Creative art helps people cope with symptoms, stress and other traumatic experiences and help them enjoy a life-affirming pleasure of making art.
Art therapy integrates aspects of psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to enhance well-being and mental health. This form of expression offers people an opportunity to explore intense or painful thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment. A wide variety of art materials can be used in this process such as paints, clay, colors and batik to create visual representations of feelings and thoughts. It is an individual activity but can be successfully used in groups too.
Who is art therapy useful for? Everybody. Art therapy has various functions and can be used with people of all ages, backgrounds, intellectual capacity, caste, gender, etc. It can help managers and employees under stress and others who remain generally stressed and overworked, for people with mental health problems, children and adults with severe learning disabilities, for young learners who have issues conforming in school and with problems at home and also for people who are stress free yet feel the need to explore issues within themselves.
Professionally trained in both art and therapy, art therapists have a considerate understanding of the processes of art underpinned by having a rigorous knowledge of therapeutic practices to work with individuals and groups in a variety of settings such as residential, school, hospitals and community based settings. They have extensive knowledge about human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, traditions and the healing potential of art work.
Other areas of work include adult mental health, child and family centers, learning disabilities, brain injury, trauma, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions, wellness centers, schools, prison services and palliative care. Some art therapists work as a part of a healthcare team which may include other specialists such as physicians, psychologists, mental health counselors, family therapists, social workers, nurses and rehabilitation counselors. They help towards determining and implementing a client’s therapeutic goals and objectives. Other art therapists may work independently and maintain a private practice with a range of clients including children, adolescents, adults, groups and families.
Art therapy is used to treat a wide range of behaviors and disorders and psychological distress. It is used to assess and treat problems such as anxiety, depression, emotional problems, mental illness, substance abuse and other addictions, social and emotional difficulties related to disability or illness, abuse and domestic violence, personal trauma, PTSD and loss, physical, cognitive and neurological problems and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.