Art as Therapy
Art, music, dance, literature – they are all very powerful. When we experience someone else’s art, we can be inspired, transported, and moved. They are expressions of the human condition, expressions of joy, pain, anger, love. Why not, then, use art as therapy? We do not have to be a famous artist, musician, dancer, or writer to express ourselves and our experience of the human condition. We can help ourselves heal by expressing our joy, pain, anger, love, and more.
Finding a Medium
The first step in using art as therapy is choosing a medium. For some, it may need to be something that you have experience with or are comfortable with. Others may need to be willing to stretch and find something new. Exploring different media is part of the creative process, and you may just fall in love with a new art form that you might have otherwise never explored.
Remember that this is art as therapy; no one is judging you or looking for America’s next top artist. This is about you, expressing yourself and using your creativity to heal. For example, according to one study, visual arts can express things that words cannot. Music can calm your brain, and may even have a positive impact on your immune system. Dance as therapy can relieve anxiety and improve our physical health. Writing — even a task as simple as journaling — can improve immune function, reduce stress hormones, and increase cognitive abilities.
Particularly during adolescence, you may have things that seem impossible to express verbally, even in a safe environment such as therapy. Art can be amazing in this situation, as it gives you the opportunity to express your emotions nonverbally, in a way that is non-judgmental. For example, if you have endured trauma that is too painful to talk about, you may be able to draw, paint, or sculpt your emotions surrounding the traumatic events.
Art is helpful in this situation as it provides a release of emotions for you. Without saying any words, you have communicated your pain or other feelings, which can be seen in the art without needing any words at all. Or, if the experience allows you, you can open up and explain your art and the feelings behind it with a therapist or other trusted person, which allows you to then process your intense emotions and start healing.
Some people are good at words. Some people can talk about anything — and then there are the rest of us. If you are one of those people who is a visual or tactile learner, art may be the ideal way for you to heal and find your mental health.
For example, some people just naturally move when they hear music. If this is you, then you can find some music that fits your mood or wherever you are at and just let yourself move. Moving, especially to music, is so cathartic and healing. You might feel like you are able to just turn your brain off and let your body and soul create and experience the emotions flowing through you. Or you might just take a sketchpad or even some paper and let your pencil move in your hand, sketching or drawing almost without thought. There is healing in turning off the thinking part of your brain and letting your body do the talking through art.
Healing Through Expression
There is something amazing about when you have created art and you can sit back and look at it and realize, “This is how I am feeling.” It can be healing to see your pain expressed as art. Sometimes, using talk therapy, it can take a while before you process something or find closure on a memory or event. However, with art, by using hands-on techniques, and with the ability to see your emotions, you may be able to process and heal from an event or experience with one piece of art.
The Power of Sharing
Some people feel that their art is too personal to share. However, if we are courageous, sharing our art can inspire others and help in their healing as well. At the very least, you contribute to the understanding between human beings when you are willing to share your intimate artistic expressions. You can find commonalities and deep understanding with people when you share your art, unlike just talking to them or texting or communicating on social media. Sharing your art is like sharing a little bit of your essence, sharing your innermost feelings in a way that is beautiful and sometimes very raw. You put your mark on this world when you are willing to share your healing process through creativity and art.
Throughout time, art has been the expression of the most powerful of human emotions. You can harness that expression to help yourself heal and find who you are. Whether you are filled with joy or despair, anger or love, you can draw, paint, sculpt, write, play, dance, or express your emotions in any medium you choose. You can use art to say things that words simply cannot, or you can even write away your emotions to create literature that inspires, transports, and moves. Most importantly, you can create art that heals both you and others.
You can explore healing through art by calling Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 today. You are beautiful, just the way you art.