IntroductionArt Therapy, as a relatively new form of therapy, has been gaining further recognition for its apparent effects on the human mind. Art therapy inspires change and development through creative activities such as sculpting, painting, drawing and other non-verbal forms of art.
Because art therapy is a newer form of counseling it is not fully understood. The underlying therapeutic mechanisms that art therapy provides have caused many professional psychologists to utilize it as a common practice. Art therapists enhance the well-being of patients, as well as help patients overcome personal challenges, and promote self discovery. Patients who undergo art therapy have “increased trust” with their therapist and demonstrate a “trustful therapeutic alliance.” (Gard, 2017)Art Therapists Art therapists find their work as very observational as patients, during a session, are focused on the artistic task at hand and art therapists tend to not ask the patients psychoanalytic questions in order to not interrupt the patients creative process. “It’s important that we not approach this work with a psychoanalytic agenda, he insists. We’re not there to pester the clients while they’re being creative”. (Degen) Art therapists act as a guide in the creative processes of art therapy in order to give their patient the most freedom possible.
“Art therapists have the responsibility to handle crises, and to screen potential group members for suitability.” (Amato, 2000) Art therapy has become more prominent in the world of specialist counselors. “Practical advice about sexuality and spiritual concerns can be conveyed through art therapy.” (Temp, 2014) Both Amato and Temp express how similar Art Therapists have the same aspirations and goal for their patients as a conventional “sit down” therapist but utilize different methods to achieve those goals, Amato finds art therapy as a tool to control a person’s needs or problems in order to cope while Temp sees art therapy as a way patients can convey their worries through art.
Effects of Art TherapyA study conducted by Hina Ayaz Habib & Uzma Ali of the University of Karachi sought to find the efficacy of art therapy on children with ADHD. The experiment compared children who received art therapy sessions vs children who received regular classroom classes. The findings of Ayaz and Ali’s experiment suggested that art therapy effectively reduced the impulse behavior of the children with ADHD that recieved art therapy sessions, making art therapy a versatile tool in combating even neurological disorders as well as psychological disorders.In Susan Hogan’s Gender issues in Art Therapy, Hogan recounts how art therapy is more responsive to the needs of LGBT clients as art therapists typically have fluid methods and exchanges, compared to that of a traditional counselor. “The therapist’s attitude regarding therapeutic boundaries, can be shared in the therapeutic situation as art therapists have different views of how social exchanges may affect ongoing therapy”. (Hogan,2003) Art therapy, in turn, helps patients gain trust. According to an art therapist testimony in Gard Holmqvist’s article, What Art Therapists Consider to Be Patient’s Inner Change and How It May Appear during Art Therapy, there is a significant difference in how a patient shares personal information after the art sessions. “During the first session the patient avoided attachment by talking about and explaining the images, they were concrete descriptions of life situations (without emotions).
.. In the following session, the patient only wanted to talk again. But one session later the patient was able to house the frustration and let the body breathe in rhythm with the movement (of painting) and as the crayons ran out continue with liquid paints.” (Gard, 2017) Hogan and Gard show how art therapist’s ability to gain their patients trust positively affects the patients’ mental health and ability to cope among a vast spectrum of people. “.
..Art participation provided people with a therapeutic and creative social environment, and improved confidence, a sense of self, and hope…” (De Vecchi, 2015) Art therapy is a good tool that therapists can utilize when the need for improved hope and/or confidence arises in a patient.
Because a patient can focus on themselves when undergoing an art therapy session the stress of having to talk to a counselor is lifted and provides room for the patient to grow.ConclusionArt therapy is not merely just another form of counseling it is a modern and progressive take on traditional therapy. In contrast to traditional therapists, art therapists are just as progressive as their work entails. Art therapy is a practical alternative form of counseling that limits the verbal exchange between the counselor and patient and has proven results such as and is effect on neurological conditions like ADHD, its effectiveness with the LGBT community, and its use in improving a patients trust, hope and self-confidence. With further implementation of art therapy there would be more modern movements in psychology that would pertain to the new generations of people with newer progressive outlooks on life that conventional forms of therapy can not reach.