Art therapy has been used as part of the treatment for mental disorders successfully for quite some time, and we have a perfect example right here in South Florida, at the Ann Storck Center, which relies on this method as an important part of their rehab program for disabled children and adults.
Art as therapy has also proven to be very effective in instances other than formally diagnosed mental disorders, helping people cope with difficult situations that range from bereavement and deep hardship to everyday stress. Art therapy benefits have also started to be recognized by schools, as we see some starting to incorporate art programs for their underperforming schools with great results, such as The Turnaround Arts program for failing schools in California, and even right here in Miami, our Public Schools district has a formal art therapy program to help at-risk students, if you would like to read more about this clicking here.
There are many ways art can be used as a vehicle for self expression, and we at Pain it Out use it in our workshops as a way for people to let their negative emotions out, and although we facilitate the process we don’t interpret but simply encourage our participants to explore.
The value of art as therapy in dealing with emotions has been talked about since ancient times, and there are many great examples through history. We found a great book, Art as Therapy, by philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong, where they outline the seven psychological functions of art:
1. Remembering – helps keep good memories alive
2. Hope – optimism helps us achieve positive outcomes
3. Sorrow – it helps us “metabolize” the negative
4. Rebalancing – with such busy, complicated lives, it helps us recenter
5. Self-understanding – it helps our self awareness
6. Growth – helps us explore and expand ourselves
7. Appreciation – it helps us see the value of the simple things
You can read the full article about this book here.
Having experienced first hand the powerful healing effects of creative self expression though colors and shapes, I know it’s a valuable tool when it comes to healthy ways of dealing with difficult situations that cause stress and pain, and I highly recommend it!