THE HEALING MOVEMENT OF ART THERAPY
Writer Katlyn Anderson
How art reduces anxiety and depression
A great deal of research has been conducted in recent years on the effect that both viewing and creating art can have on supporting people's mental health. The findings have been incredibly encouraging and many studies show that art therapy is particularly effective at helping alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. As a result, art therapy is now being deployed across healthcare systems to help improve the quality of life and manage the symptoms of people with a range of different conditions and health care needs. There is no reason why sculpting cannot form a part of this. Whether it is the appreciation of the art or making it in some form or other, sculpture can play a significant role improving people's mental health.
The power of the creative process
Becoming immersed in the creative process, whether it be drawing, painting, sculpting, writing poetry or making music, can overtime help to train and focus the mind, which can help people to feel much more calm and peaceful more often.
Achieving ‘flow state’ with the creative process, where the mind is calm and focused for long periods, helps to clear the mind of anxious or worried thoughts for an extended period of time, as well as helping people to learn to become more mindful in the present moment, as the creative process requires paying close attention to detail.
Creating art is a form of meditation
In this sense, being immersed in creation helps people move away from the destruction associated with anxiety and depression, which is characterised by a worried and concerned mind that dwells on the past or is concerned about the future.
Creating art is beneficial in this regard as it encourages someone to focus on the now and clear their mind. In this way, the benefits derived from being immersed in the creative process are similar to that of practicing regular meditation and mindfulness. Creating art is in and of itself a very meditative activity.
Art therapy can help dementia patients
Dementia patients are unfortunately very prone to suffering with anxiety and depression because of the nature of their disease. Finding ways to combat this can dramatically improve the quality of life of a dementia patient, and that isn’t all, art therapy has also been shown to help improve the memory of dementia patients and slow their cognitive decline. One study showed that art therapy brought about a 70% success rate in improving the memory of a group of dementia patients.
Creating art can help people overcome past trauma
At therapy can help provide emotional release and a valuable form of self-expression for people that have suffered any kind of past trauma or abuse. It is common for people with these experiences to also suffer from anxiety and depression, so creating art is particularly beneficial in these circumstances.
Art therapy helps open the doors to communication, providing people with the opportunity to express thoughts, feelings and emotions that may otherwise be too difficult or painful to put into words, in this way, it can be particularly effective at helping people heal.
Katlyn Anderson is an emerging writer/journalist from Queensland.