Not only can children and adolescences benefit from art therapy, but adults can as well. Creating art gives adults a sense of empowerment and control. This empowerment often influences individuals to reflect if they have performed well at something they had not realized they could master, perhaps they could similarly master other activities that had previously seemed impossible. A sense of control and empowerment in one area increases the level of comfort with exploring new challenges in general outside of the class.
Arts provide some of the best opportunities to experience a new sense of control or mastery. In the arts, the opportunities to create something new and beautiful are endless and offer an enormous sense of satisfaction and empowerment (Cohen). Giving a person the self-esteem they need to openly express his inner thoughts and buried feelings. Art therapy is based on the idea that the verbal, rational mind often throws a wall between the wounded unconscious and the outside world.
Drawing is a way for the unconscious to break down the wall says Dr. McGrath, “You can communicate and express feelings that can’t come out in words. Things come out that you may not expect. ” Once those pictures break out, the therapist and patient can discuss them, and the healing can begin. Local art therapists empathize that the method can help people of all ages (Lemley). Not only all ages but, all mindsets as well. Art therapy is sometimes found in the school setting, but more prominently it is found in the clinical setting.
Creative arts can have an equally secure place in the hospital setting if we expand that psychosocial need component, by recognizing that we are all artistic. The creative arts serve as a form of therapeutic intervention intended to increase and improve the quality of life for both clients and their families thereby, reducing the impact of the crisis caused by the illness. The arts serve as a tool and means for creative expression and communication, especially during the final stages of life (Orser). When pain becomes overpowering, a patient’s creative impulses may be an important ally.
ABC News wrote an article on art therapy saying that for some time now scientists have known that a wide range of creative activities, ranging from listening to or performing music, to engaging in an energetic dance routine, may reduce pain felt by persons who are ill. And more recently researchers have shown that creating a piece of art can do the same thing, even if the art is not all that great. In the latest study, 50 cancer patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago lowered eight out of nine symptoms associated with pain and anxiety after spending one hour painting, or drawing, or trying to make a piece of pottery or jewelry.
Even though a person may not have control over their medical condition, they do have control over the artwork they create. In the hospice setting, dying patients are not the only people to undergo art treatment. Art therapy also has a program that aims to help the recovering service members find a creative haven where their buried post-war thoughts and emotions can come to the surface through art and therapy. By working on their art projects in a personal manner, they confront the circumstances of their injuries and begin to overcome the uncertainty they might feel.
Creating art slows down the brain so people can focus and improve their cognitive skills and hand-eye coordination. Sharing and discussing artwork establishes a sense of community and bonding with one another, which is particularly helpful to those with post-traumatic stress disorder who tend to isolate themselves and do not trust others (Cronk). Art therapy is especially beneficial to active service members, because a patient’s picture is worth a thousand words and a psychotherapy patient does not always effectively produce any words at all. Art therapy is a much more effective form of traditional therapy.
Expressive arts benefits children, adolescents, adults, and elders. Very few disadvantages if any are found in the creation of art. Verbalizing an emotion is sometimes very difficult to do, yet can easily be expressed through images. People tend to bury traumatic events causing a shift in personality and a barrier between communications. Art therapy is a new and upcoming form of therapy that will become more prevalent as the years progress. It is an effective alternative to traditional therapy and prescribed medications for all sorts of disorders ranging from ADHD to patients that are dying, to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The Artful Life – Counseling Center and Studio. ” Expressive Art Therapy. Artfullifecenter. org. , 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. Cohen, Gene D. “Research on Creativity and Aging: The Positive Impact of the Arts…” Generations Vol. 30, No. 1. Spring 2006: 7-15. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. Cronk, Terri. “Therapist Uses Art to Help Troops Heal. ” US Department of Defense. 08 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Jan. 2013 Kotwas, Kara. “Art Therapy: Visualizing Emotions. ” Blue Jean Magazine. Jan. /Feb. 1998: 26. SIRS Discoverer. Web. 06 Sept. 2012.