“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” - Pablo Picasso
A piece of art can convey much more meaning than just a pretty painting on the wall. Art is a vast subject that ranges from painting, sculpture, photography, and architecture, and allows individuals to express and communicate to others who may or may not speak the same language. Art is all around us and does not discriminate.
Surprisingly, art can be an effective tool for healing and mental health treatment. It can be utilised to aid communication and explore different characteristics of an individual’s personality. This can encourage individuals to explore their own feelings, enhance self-awareness, improve self-esteem, and develop social skills all through painting and crafting. By encouraging individuals to examine their artwork, people can explore common themes that could be influenced by their thought patterns, behaviours and feelings. To participate in art therapy, people do not need any prior knowledge or artistic ability, and people of all ages and backgrounds and can benefit from it. Art therapy can help those who have experienced trauma, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, loss, and even brain injuries.
Art Therapy can benefit people with conditions such as:
- Eating disorders
- Learning disabilities
- Medical conditions
- Substance abuse
“I can't think of anything more rewarding than being able to express yourself to others through painting. Exercising the imagination, experimenting with talents, being creative; these things, to me, are truly the windows to your soul.” – Bob Ross
Art Therapy can also be utilised for individuals with autism. In the world, 1 in 100 people have autism and around 1/3 of people on the autism spectrum are non-verbal. Individuals with autism are highly visual thinkers, and therefore art is a natural tool to allow them to communicate and express their feelings in a sensory and unrestricted way. Since individuals with autism may struggle with social and verbal communication, they can record and process memories and ideas through art.
Art Therapists can help individuals with autism to:
- Develop fine motor skills
- Develop a bond between family and peers
- Manage sensory issues
- Recognise and respond to facial expressions
There’s plenty of Art Therapy exercises you can do at home that can aid relaxation, manage emotions, improve self-image and acknowledge gratitude. You may even find a new interest in art or a new creative hobby along the way! You don’t need an art studio to work in, working on your kitchen table will do fine.
- Stress painting – Grab a piece of paper and begin fluidly making marks on the paper with your paints. Dot, dab and scribble your stress away. Choose colours that you feel represent your feelings.
- Create a postcard that you will never send – When upset and angry with people in your life, create a postcard depicting your feelings. You can even write a message on the back.
- Draw a self-portrait from the future –Think about your dream job, dream weight, dream lifestyle. This should allow you to focus on your future goals and help you visualise where you want to be.
- Motivational and dream collage – Cut and paste things photos of things that motivate you onto a board. This could include your goals, your dream home, dream body, dream job, family and friends. Hang your board somewhere in your house where you will see it every day.
- Painting to music – You can experiment with a range of musical genres to explore and create a piece of art that expresses how the music makes you feel. You can either paint a scene or doodle away. This will encourage relaxation and mindfulness.
By Rachel at Cheswold Park Hospital