Healing Art: How Artwork Stimulates and Helps Patients

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy utilizes art media, the creative process and the production of art to explore and open feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve mental health, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.

The purpose of art therapy is to improve or restore a patient’s functions and his or her sense of personal well-being. Art therapy requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological and counseling theories and techniques.

Today art therapy is widely practiced in hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, schools, private practice, and other clinical and community settings.

Who Can Use Art Therapy?

Art therapy helps release bottled up emotions while giving new understanding and perspective to patients. For people living with cancer, art therapy offers a way of communicating and exploring difficult thoughts and feelings. It can stimulate positive feelings as well as shared experiences.

Art therapy may be helpful for people who feel uncomfortable with touch or talk therapies. It can also be helpful in supporting families and friends affected by the patient’s illness.  Although there is limited scientific evidence, many health professional utilize art therapy to:

  • Improve mental health by encouraging patients to express their emotions and help improve their relationships with other people.
  • Help patients adjust to a changing body image.
  • Encourage patients to be creative and self-confident
  • Help to control anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
  • Help take the patient’s mind off pain or discomfort

Art therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, wellness, private practice and healthcare facilities. Art therapy is an effective treatment for patients who experience developmental, medical, educational and social or psychological impairment. Individuals who benefit from art therapy include patients of trauma, combat, adverse physical health conditions, and other health disabilities. Art therapy programs help patients resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce stress, and achieve personal insight.

Art therapy can benefit both children and adults. Even if you’re using creative arts as a means of expression without the aid of an art therapist, there are still many benefits to be had.

What Art Therapy Involves

While art therapy requires an art therapist, you can still achieve the benefits from art therapy without experience. Art therapy programs can take many forms, including:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpture, collage, or 3-D work
  • iPads, smartphones and digital cameras

If an art therapist is required, he or she will ask several questions about the patient during the first visit. By understanding the patient’s particular needs, problems, and expectations, the therapist aid can help design a plan of therapy that is most effective for the patient.

Art therapy can take place in individual or group sessions. These can last up to 60 minutes for individual sessions or longer for groups. Depending on the setting, art therapy programs can take place regularly for a fixed number of weeks or months.

Art therapy doesn’t teach patients to draw or paint. Art therapist aid will encourage patients to use art to explore their feelings and develop their own confidence and self-awareness. With the support of professionally trained art therapists, art therapy is usually a very positive process in patient treatment.

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Artwork designed or integrated in your medical practice can stimulate and help patients. Whether you are starting from scratch or in the early stages of moving, Boulevard LA has the expertise and knowledge to help guide you and your medical practice to success.