Art is Therapeutic


The other day I realized that my house was extremely cold and after checking a couple of things out, found out that my furnace was not working.  I became very frantic and stressed out because I had been planning a large family gathering at my home and knew that everything was going to be ruined if we had to sit in a freezing cold house.  I’m used to be a very even-tempered person but as I get older, I notice that I am always wound up and easily get worked up about small things.  I did some quick research and called the best company for heating and cooling Birmingham AL had to offer, who agreed to come out that same afternoon.  Now that the heat is back on and my family gathering turned out so well, I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on my behavior and actions during stressful times.  I decided that I need to find some ways to calm myself down and focus my brain on things that are not stressful or worrisome. 

I’ve always heard of “art therapy” and have always associated it with just painting or drawing to take your mind off of other things, very similar to “retail therapy”.  I have been reading some things online about it and have found that it is actually a lot more in depth than what I had originally thought.

According to “Art therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development and psychological theories and techniques with visual arts and the creative process to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions. Art therapists use art media, and often the verbal processing of produced imagery, to help people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

Art therapy has the unique ability to unlock emotional expression by facilitating non-verbal communication. This is especially useful in cases where traditional psychotherapy has been ineffectual. Art and art making are inherently perceptually and sensory based and involve the brain and the body in ways that verbal language does not. Art therapy provides an alternative means of communicating for those who cannot find the words to express anxiety, pain or emotions as a result of trauma, combat, physical abuse, loss of brain function, depression, and other debilitating health conditions.

Although use of visual imagery is the foundational tenet of art therapy, art therapists uniquely draw from multiple theoretical approaches in their understanding, design, and implementation of treatment. Art therapists understand the science of imagery and the therapeutic potentials of color, texture, and various art media and how these affect a wide range of potential clients and personalities. Rigorous clinical training in working with individuals, families, and groups prepare art therapists to make parallel assessments of clients’ general psychological disposition and how art as a process is likely to moderate conditions and corresponding behavior. Recognizing the ability of art and art-making to reveal thoughts and feelings, and knowledge and skill to safely manage the reactions they may evoke, are competencies that define art therapy as a profession.”

So I’m probably not going to start seeing an art therapist, but I am going to spend some time each week working on different art projects to see if this is a good way for me to get in touch with my inner calmness.  I bought a few canvases and had some oil paints and brushes and started painting a picture of a beautiful landscape that just sort of appeared in my head.  I do have to say that it is very relaxing to watch the colors mix together and the brush strokes take on a life of their own on the canvas.  I’ll keep you guys up to date on how effective this is to my overall sanity as time progresses.

I don’t think it matters if you’re artistic or not, so my challenge to you is to pick up a paint brush and some paints, or some colored pencils, or any other material that might interest you and give yourself 30 minutes to an hour each week to just see where it takes you.  You could have some huge breakthroughs with your inner self, or you could just end up with some weird art to hang in your home!

Artfully yours,

Russell R.