Art therapy has developed historically since the 1940s in Great Britain and the United States as a treatment modality for traumatized war veterans, who stayed in psychiatric hospitals.
The term “art therapy” means therapy through art and it is made up of two words that are defined as follows:
- Art: a creative activity with an aesthetic purpose in which the person expresses feelings and emotions through different materials, techniques and procedures;
- Therapy: a process that is carried out with the aim of curing, alleviating, or improving problems, symptoms and diseases.
Searching on the Internet we can find two definitions of this type of therapy…some people define it as a mental health profession that uses the creative process to improve and enhance the physical, the mental, and emotional well-being of individuals regardless of age; while others as a form of psychotherapy that uses art as its primary form of communication.
In general, we can explain Art therapy as a therapy based on artistic development and creation to improve the state of the person. It is real science based on psychological techniques, which together with creative processes allow the exploration of internal conflicts through artistic activities.
Now the question is how can it do that? Well, this discipline uses visual art, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, and photography as the main tool to influence emotional expression and the unconscious mind, to facilitate the communication of internal conflicts that cannot be verbalized so easily
What are the main benefits? Through the elaboration of any type of art, you work on aspects such as self-esteem, strengthening of decision-making by oneself, relationships with others, the expression of feelings, etc.
It is a type of work that is especially useful for people with substance addiction problems, for minors at social risk, and in general for any vital circumstance that makes it difficult to express feelings.
Through Art Therapy it is possible to capture what we are not able to express easily in our closest environment; for example, coping with an illness or a new situation. In fact, this therapy has enormous benefits in clinical practice. Its success has been proven in the treatment of different diagnoses, such as Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia.
About that, it is important to mention what International Art Therapy Organization said: “When words are not enough, we turn to images and symbols to tell our stories. Through art, we can find a path to health and wellness, emotional repair, recovery, and transformation.”
It can be experimented with by people of all ages, including children, adolescents, and adults in the individual, group, couple, or family modality.
They will be helped in their path by art therapists, that are part of clinical teams that work in different areas of mental health, such as rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions.
They can work individually, in groups, or affiliated with other professional specialists in psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, and medicine.
The demand for their professional contribution is constantly increasing in schools, hospitals, and even in communities.
If you feel interested, after reading it, in testing this different but special type of therapy or in specializing yourself to become an art therapist, don’t hesitate!