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8 Tips for Employing Art Therapy Techniques

This is a guest post by Sophie Garrod.

Art therapy has long been recognised as an effective way of treating grief, loss, mental illness and other mental health problems. Its accessibility means it is also equally effective across a range of different groups of people, including children to adults.

This type of therapy is so useful in these situations as it gives patients an outlet to express their feelings when doing so verbally may be difficult or even impossible. Art therapy can involve a range of different mediums, such as painting, drawing or sculpture.

If you think art therapy good be beneficial for you or someone you know, here are some tips for employing art therapy techniques to keep in mind.

1. When Art Therapy May Help

Creating art can be beneficial to just about anyone and boost mental and emotional wellbeing, even for people who are not experiencing any particular challenges. However, it has been shown to have particular results in improving self-esteem, self-awareness, emotional resilience, social skills, and easing distress. There are many different mediums you can use for the exercises we will discuss in this article. One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways, especially for beginner artists, is with oil paints: see tips on getting started with oil painting here.

2. Art Therapy Should be Conducted By a Trained Professional

Participating in art therapy is not as simple as going to an art class. Art therapists are trained professionals with a very specific set of skills, rather than simply art teachers. Although art in any form is undoubtedly positive and an important part of self-care, if you are seeking to treat a certain illness or address a particular issue, you should consult with a qualified art therapy professional.

3. Art Therapy Can Involve Words Too

Just because art therapy is all about expressing things creatively, this doesn’t mean that it cannot also involve using words to express yourself. Some art therapy techniques could involve writing feelings, such as creating a postcard with whatever artist techniques you desire, and writing a note on the other side. This postcard could be addressed to someone in your life, someone you’ve lost, or your past, future or even present self.

4. Art Therapy Can Be Useful For Anxiety

Anxiety is a long-term condition which can be extremely difficult to treat. It is also something which often goes undiagnosed and untreated for years, despite its prevalence:  in the US alone, an estimated 40 million adults suffer from anxiety, 18% of the population. Art therapy can be very helpful in identifying the source of patients’ anxiety, as well as developing healthy coping mechanisms. For example, creating a “panic book”, which contains images and other materials which you find comforting, can help you to stay calm during a panic attack.

5. For Children: Keep It Simple

Art therapy is an invaluable tool for treating children, particularly young children. Young age groups have limited language and communication skills making it nearly impossible to express their feelings or complex thoughts, and art is an excellent way to bridge that gap. For young children, art therapy techniques don’t need to be complicated: simply drawing or colouring can go a long way to letting the patient express their feelings, and helping therapists identify issues.

6. Art Therapy is Great For Adults Too

Although art therapy is great for getting kids to express their emotions, it is also perfect for having adults do the same. Even though adults have better developed language and communications skills than children, they are not necessarily much better at identifying and articulating what they are feeling. Art therapist will be able to recommend specific projects and exercises which are suitable to the patient’s condition, and sites like ipicasso are great places for getting art inspiration.

7. Use Art Therapy to Identify Emotions

Sometimes the hardest part is not dealing with our emotions, but identifying them in the first place. Creating art can help you identify what you’re feeling, in order to work through and address these emotions, preferably with the assistance of a trained professional. There are a variety of art therapy exercises you can use to tease out complex or difficult emotions,  such as drawing or painting what you’re feeling, creating an emotional wheel (a visual representation of the emotions you are feeling at a particular time or over a length of time using colours), making a visual journal or making abstract line art to express how you’re feeling.

8. Art Therapy to Reduce Stress

Most people go through times of stress at one point or another, and a significant amount of people suffer from chronic stress over the medium to long term. Art therapy can be used for relaxation, encouraging mindfulness, and ultimately stress relief. Art therapy for relation can be very simple: creating a “stream of consciousness” painting while listening to music, using lines of colour to make a simple scribble drawing, or creating a mandala by starting at the centre and working your way out by drawing circles each with their own symmetrical pattern.

About the Author:

After graduating in journalism and media, Sophie started working as Head of Content for Ipicasso is the specialized online store in selling high-quality paintings by numbers in UK.

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