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Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that is rooted in the notion that creativity and creative expression can foster healing and promote mental well-being. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” British artist, Adrian Hill, coined the term ‘art therapy’ in 1942 after discovering the healthful benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis. Art therapy is currently recognized as an effective psychotherapeutic approach that is regularly used by mental health clinicians to treat a variety of mental health ailments, spanning across all ages. This mental health intervention is facilitated by art therapists who are trained mental health providers that are educated in human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, and fine art. Many adolescents can be shy, or uncomfortable with their ability to properly articulate and accurately express their emotions. Art therapy encourages children to explore self-expression, emotions, and challenges through various art media rather than relying on verbal articulation.

Art Therapy Benefits

Two pioneers of art therapy, Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer used this therapeutic modality to help clients access their inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences through creative expression. There are many benefits of art therapy, some of which include the following, provided by the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association:

  • Promotes self-reliance, developmentally age-appropriate autonomy, and self-sufficiency.
  • Enables a young person to verbally and nonverbally communicate emotions that may otherwise be abandoned.
  • Data suggests art therapy improves the ability to deal with pain and other frightening symptoms in children with cancer.
  • Can act as a cathartic release.
  • Encourages the development of healthy coping strategies.
  • Research has found art therapy reduces stress and anxiety in children with asthma.
  • Improves self-esteem and increases resilience.
  • Facilitates self-discovery.

Findings from a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, indicate that less than an hour of creative activity can reduce stress and have a positive effect on one’s mental health, regardless of one’s artistic experience or talent. Art therapy can serve as a language for those who need another way to identify, express, process, and work though challenges, difficult to navigate thoughts, and big feelings.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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