- A few words about art therapy
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy. Anyone who comes into contact with it learns and understands the process of how art is made and its therapeutic properties. It is for individuals (‘creators’) to take clay, paints or brushes in their hands and having got to know the materials make something, create things or works of art that are not controlled by the rational mind. This provokes wonderment and the creator discovers through artistic expression, through painting and looking at his/her creation, what he/she had not seen before and comes to admire that.
Put more simply, art therapy is a pleasant, creative way to combat stress, to manage difficult emotions and to effectively deal with the situations that cause them, and can also be useful in more difficult mental health conditions too since it can be used as a method for combating depression and the anxiety disorders caused by stress (as well as other disorders) without medication.
Art’s therapeutic qualities promote relaxation and at the same time an involvement in the creative process takes one’s attention away from thoughts and concerns that torment the mind. Art therapy also helps with identifying, combating and sometimes even eliminating sources of stress in day-to-day life. Art therapy is aimed at the general public, at aware individuals for whom exploring themselves and their relations with others are topics they are still addressing.
The topics that arise are analysed on multiple levels with emphasis on both theory and practice. By understanding acceptance, diversity and the uniqueness of each individual, communication skills will grow, the individual will develop in multiple respects and come into contact with his/her creative self. Participants expand their cognitive and emotional selves, discovering new ways to see issues which are of concern to them, while developing new strategies for resolving problems and creatively expressing themselves and interacting with each other via open dialogue about psychological theory and art.
Individuals in the group attempt to balance their mental conflicts that generate guilt and stress using their creative skills, and therefore parts of their own identity, to a certain extent, are defined by attempts to reach compromise between those conflicting tendencies.
This inner need lies at the core of creativity and thus every mental process can be expressed and captured via art. The work becomes a filter, a screen, a container and so the individual’s creativity and development becomes a very important aspect in therapy.The mental or cognitive scenes that are depicted in the work or image produced are a form of symbolism. The individual can modify his/her imagination, his /her inner demons, and change and/or enrich the symbols used. Through art therapy the individual can even create his/her own symbols, since the artistic product itself is a core symbol. This allows the individual to shape his/her fears, to help break down the ambiguous nature of those fears by giving them a specific form and shape, and thereby enable the individual to better deal with them. The artistic images created remain as proof of this over time and space, and individuals thereinafter find it difficult to deny their existence. The artwork is always there and even if the creator wants to keep his distance from it, at some point in time the destructive form will metamorphose and change.
In any event transformation is an ongoing process and each attempt leads to a solution which in turn gives rise to another possible and interesting one, less threatening than the last one.
Painting has a therapeutic effect in the wider sense of the word, since in addition to be cathartic on an emotional level via the lines and colours used, it allows fears to be given form and better dealt with. Through painting those fears take on a specific shape and form and thereby become less ambiguous and so are less fearful.
Art shows us how expressivity can provide catharsis. It is like a means of communicating and processing emotions. Artistic expression itself is a key tool in art therapy.
One key point to always remember is that one doesn’t need to know how to paint and one certainly doesn’t need to be an artist to bring form to chaos, to move from inaction to movement, from confusion to order. Coming into contact with our creative aspect is an act of love. When the creative individual is in an accepting, respectful and knowledge-filled environment he becomes surprised, begins to question things, feel emotions and begins to marvel at things …