What is Art Therapy? Does it really work?

“Art helps you escape reality”, is not just a mere philosophical quote found on your Pinterest board. History is a true testament to how Art has proved to be a catalyst in rehabilitation and helped people overcome their sadness by tugging at the ropes of their disheveled life and bringing some peace to it. The World War, Great Depression left an insatiable urge among artists to develop and express the carnage and mess that the warfare had left on their daily lives. People were sad. They lost their families, children, property and livestock. The producers of Culture took it upon them to distract people from the humongous cloud of sadness that had engulfed their lives. They reevaluated their techniques, styles, materials and thus styles like Avant Garde, Abstractism, Modern Art saw the light of day. Anything that took away from realism was embraced with open arms.

Years have passed, but people are still depressed, and sometimes they are not aware about it. Today, A different war is being fought and people are suffering from internal conflicts of their own. Especially millenials! The tremendous pressure of validation and proving their self worth has resulted in an army of unhappy individuals trying to find some meaning to their life. And this is where Art Therapy comes in the picture.

So what exactly is Art Therapy?

First let’s clarify one thing, Art Therapy has nothing to do with artistic talent. The therapeutic process is about finding relations between the creative choices and the inner life of a client rather than the artistic value of the work. While an art class helps you learn the techniques and develop a product, art therapy focuses more on the inner experience of the client. Different techniques such as Art, Calligraphy, Painting, Sculpting and Collage is used to help people express themselves artistically and then examined for psychological and emotional undertones. A Credentialed Art therapist then decodes the symbols, metaphors and messages found in these art forms which further helps understand the clients feelings and resolve deeper issues.

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When is it used and What to Expect?

People of Every age from adolescents to senior citizen can use Art Therapy to explore and deal with their deeper issues like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Cancer
  • Eating Disorder
  • Stress
  • Psychological Issues
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Family/ Relationship Problems
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dissociative Identity Disorders

Just like any other form of Therapy, the first session always consists of you talking to the therapist about why you want help. After a treatment plan is decided, you start creating and the therapist applies simple means of observation and asks you questions about what you felt through out the process. Art Therapy not only uses psychotherapy but also uses a combination of other forms of Therapy like poetry, dance and music to help you further decode the emotional undertones of your creation.

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However sometimes the effectiveness of Art therapy has been criticised severely due to the lack of empirical evidence. But one needs to realise that it takes time and commitment before one starts to experience the benefits of Art therapy. It cannot be rushed and takes its own sweet time.

Test Yourself

This test is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or for the treatment of any health condition.

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Published by Diya Sengupta

I draw, write and read to keep my sanity

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