Emotional disturbances such as depression, anxiety, and stress overload are the result of losing touch with one’s own thoughts and feelings. One way to get back in touch with these thoughts and feelings is through the use of art. Art therapy provides a sense of accomplishment, enjoyment, and personal expression for those interested in self-discovery or simple relaxation.
Art Therapy and Stress
The creative process is a great way to reduce the effects of stress. By helping the individual get in touch with what is going on around them, art therapy can help a person determine the source of their stress so that they are better able to cope with the stressor or, in some cases, eliminate it completely. The physical act of creating a piece of art can have a calming, soothing effect on the body’s stress response, and the concentration required to paint, draw, or sculpt may take an individual’s mind off of whatever stressors are particularly bothering them at the time.
Art Therapy and Anxiety
Anxiety is often caused by underlying fears of that the anxious person is unaware of. Art therapy can help them discover and define their fears so that they may then be dealt with. Creating art can also help them to find out what it is that they love or enjoy, boost self-esteem, and cultivate a sense of self-worth, all of which may reduce the effects of anxiety.
Art Therapy and Depression
Depression has been defined by some as anger turned inward. Art can help the depressed individual discover their anger and express it in a healthy way. In one study, art therapy was used with suicidal teenagers, and results showed that it had positive effects as part of an overall treatment plan. Guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness are all emotions that can cause depression, and the creative process can help a person cope with these emotions.
When used along with other interventions for the treatment of depression and anxiety, art therapy can be an effective and creative way to aid an individual’s journey toward self-knowledge and emotional health. The idea is not to focus on producing a piece of fine art. The important thing to remember is to concentrate on the act of creation itself. The images that are produced can help lead the individual to a new and different understanding of how they think and feel, and this knowledge may be the tool that helps them unlock their inner joy.