Imagine a world without creative expression, it can seam bland, static and monochromatic with a grey of indecision in a dark underworld.
Enter the creative process and an infusion of metaphorical and literal colour and lightness quickly bypasses filters on the left side of the brain and accesses the right side which acts as liberator from the shackles of a stuck behaviours, patterns, habits and perspectives in persons experiencing a range of problems including mental health issues.
Art Therapy which embraces collage, painting, drawing and sculpture is one modality in the expressive arts portfolio and is popularly defined as a creative method of expression used as a therapeutic technique. Its origin is rooted in the domain of art and psychotherapy and may vary in definition.
It is used as a powerful conduit to achieve a myriad of therapeutic goals which includes reconciliation of emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness and personal growth, to increase insight, cope with stress, increase cognitive, memory and neurosensory abilities, emotional catharsis, empowerment, stress reduction,problem solving, improve interpersonal relationships and achieve greater self-fulfillment.
The term art therapist is often loosely applied and is conservatively reserved for professionals trained in both art and therapy and who hold a master or doctoral degree in art therapy or post graduate certification in art therapy. However other professionals including social workers and mental health counsellors integrate or apply art therapy methods and techniques that they incorporate into their toolboxes in order to achieve pre-established counselling goals.
The creative process harnesses the power of the metaphor and provides a swift back entry to the unconscious.
This modality provides a dictionary of thoughts, experiences and feelings for those who find it difficult to express the way they feel with words rapidly inducing a refuge for intense emotions. A near magical detachment flows into an alpha state wonderland of new self-discovery.
Research has shown that engaging in a creative activity just once a day can lead to a more positive state of mind.
The simple act of viewing art is in itself healing and provides a canvas for mirroring and self-reflection and can help with a sense of well-being.
Art is a powerful tool as a visual dialogue of personal chronicles with mental health struggles and broadcasts a loud social statement and message in the ever looming battle against stigma.
The distinction between art therapy and therapy as art becomes apparent without minimizing the value that expression through the activity of art can be therapeutic and healing in and of itself. The creative act nurtures an added value in that it engenders a strong sense of mastery and accomplishment which boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Simple readily accessible activities that promote insight, coping and self-development can be self-practiced and include art journaling, adult colouring in, mapping, self-affirmation cards,5 minute art exercises for relaxation, simple drawing techniques for anxiety, self-care cards, positive self-talk cards, drawing your breath to name a few of an close to infinite possibilities.
Jung said that only in our creative acts do we step forth into the light and see ourselves as whole and complete.
Should you be interested in a professional capacity on a pro bono basis to facilitate change in clients using the expressive arts which can include drumming, drama, puppetry, poetry, music, movement etc. or should you wish to benefit using this modality on a personal level as a client of JCS please call 021 462 5520 with reference to this article.