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I want to share with you an article wrote by Lisa Randall, a freelance writer, on the topic about Art Therapy, after seeing my artwork.
The Power of the Sketch
What is Art Therapy?
An extremely powerful yet underrated tool in the treatment and management of issues of all kinds, ‘Art Therapy’ is an ever-relevant part of modern psychology world-over. Referring to and encapsulating just about each and every area of the field, from oil work to inks and water colours, the primary intention of art therapy is to alleviate the constraints and negative effects imposed upon an individual by various mental health issues through the expressive medium of creating art.
Fusing together the wider human creative process with various psychotherapeutic techniques, the methods prevalent within art therapy are like any other designed to treat psychological patients, in that they seek an overall improvement in health and well-being. As an outlet for so many people all over the world, creating art is believed to be a legitimate method of both internal and external conflict resolution, widely as a result of its ability to empower an individual through self-expression. Noticeable positives of such empowerment are in turn said to include the development of interpersonal skills, stress reduction, a huge increase in overall self-esteem, better behavioural management capabilities and a greater sense of self awareness and worth.
Though art has undoubtedly been used off the books in this sense for thousands of years, its uses as an authentic form of psychological treatment within mainstream society date back only to midway through the 20th century. With the observation that many psychiatric patients would take refuge in the creative process whilst undergoing various other treatments, doctors began experimenting with art as a more direct and official method of treatment.
As its own bona-fide area of modern psychology, art therapy is used in the treatment of all manner of conditions, both on its own and in unification with other popular therapy techniques, some of which that also focus on the power of sketching and some of which that don’t . Currently, the most common situations in which this form of therapy may be employed include the treatment of adults under immense levels of stress, children with learning disabilities or who are suffering from social/behavioural problems, treatment of those who have witnessed a particularly traumatic event and the recovery of individuals who have suffered a brain injury. While these remain the most notable cases in which therapy of this kind is utilised, the scope and application of art therapy is broadening at all times - with breakthroughs in the theory surrounding it accompanying evidenced practical progress derived from an overall increased focus on the method.
On the surface most could draw some kind of understanding to how therapy of this kind may or may not work- and the truth is that most would be completely right. With an aptitude to benefit patients of all backgrounds, conditions and ages - artistic therapy places a large percentage of its allotted emphasis on allowing patients to express their inner feelings in a way no other medium is able to allow. Whether a patient is a victim of depression, physical or emotional trauma, the correct and healthy channelling of their issues via a gratifying and individual medium such as art can be unmatchable in its abilities to provide all-important self-sourced support.
Whilst there is far more to becoming an art therapist than a simple talent for sketching (no matter how impressive), this is a good basis for future employment in the field. With already licensed psychologists now able to apply for credentials in the field through their respective governing bodies (The British Association of Art Therapists, The Art Therapy Credentials Board (US)), the area is continuing to grow strongly - prompting the need for fresh minds and perspectives within this exciting area of modern psychology.
Though psychology itself could, at least comparatively speaking, be considered to be a very young professional field, art therapy is one of the youngest within psychology. Just as any professional area of theory/practical study must be granted time to grow in prominence and contribution to its wider field, therapy of this kind is no different.
Having already yielded some extremely positive results in the last few decades, the emphasis of art therapy must surely now be centred on the distinction between the various methods which are starting to reveal themselves as individually applicable and in which circumstances they may be best applied.
Written by Lisa Randall