In early childhood, art is often used as a form of playing and self-expression. This article will address various forms of art as coping skills. Art therapy promotes wellness by helping one express, understand and come to terms with their thoughts and emotions through art. Art therapy is categorized into six components: ritual (prayer), language arts (poetry), visual art (collage), dramatic arts (storytelling), movement and sound (dance/body awareness), and the symbolic world (play therapy). These forms of creative expression allow one to address fears and concerns in a tender and approachable manner. Art therapy encourages creative agency and belief in one’s abilities. Using art therapy for a short amount of time can decrease burnout, anxiety, and stress.
Consider working with a licensed art therapist if you want to use your creativity for healing and would like some guidance along the way. Like non-art therapists, they work with a wide range of age groups, mental health disorders, and work settings. Think of an art therapist as someone who does everything a typical therapist would do but incorporates art as an option for treatment. Treatment with an art therapist includes talk therapy using evidence-based models such as cognitive behavior therapy or mindfulness-based therapy. After an assessment, they curate their treatment to the form of art that fits your needs. They are not there to judge or teach you art but to guide you. As you create, they hold space by listening, observing, and providing you with insights for self-discovery.
If an art therapist isn’t accessible to you, some at-home practices would be helpful. Sometimes, finding the right words to describe your feelings can be difficult. Engaging in art forms such as coloring, painting, pottery, dancing, or listening to music allows for self-expression. It alleviates negative emotions without having to verbally articulate the complexity of what you are going through. Journaling and creative writing are also accessible forms of art therapy that can be done alone. Consider exploring poetry, short stories, or play/screenwriting as possible avenues. If you’re seeking a community based activity, free zoom dance parties or online writing groups may be a good fit.
Art therapy is a great way to practice mindfulness and express your feelings. It gives you you have an option to work alone, with loved ones or a professional.
By, Chioma Ofodile, MHC Intern