“The task of therapy is not to eliminate suffering but to give a voice to it, to find a form in which it can be expressed. Expression is itself transformation; this is the message that art brings. The therapist then would be an artist of the soul, working with sufferers to enable them to find the proper container for their pain, the form in which it would be embodied.” – Stephen K. Levine
Art is a boundless world of imagination where the artist communicates the story of their inner world with the outer world. It is a powerful tool in the healing of the mind and body. Art in the form of painting, writing and music has been known as a greatest gift to mankind because of its emotional-healing properties.
Observance and understanding of the deep impact of art on human mind and soul led to the origination of “Art Therapy,” a term coined by British Artist Adrian Hill in 1942 when he discovered the therapeutic effect of drawing and painting and later he stated the importance of using one’s own creative energy in his book, Art Versus Illness.
In 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote about the effect of “beautiful objects” on sickness and recovery. “Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by color and light, we do know this, that they have an actual physical effect.”
Art Therapy works on the fundamental of understanding and de-cluttering our own emotions through expressive or visuals or any form of art that appeals to the person. Because of the multiple roles that art plays in one’s life, art therapy, nowadays, is a useful way to cure many mental diseases and neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatrists recommend this method.
Presently, art therapy is divided into two processes: One where a person is exposed to artworks by fellow beings to reach to their core of emotions and the other, where one is asked to create art to award relief to the mind and body. Art includes everything that involves using our creative mind – colors and music, paintings, sculptures, books and films. Color therapy is used to understand human emotions and bring in the necessary color in the daily life of the affected person.
Libro-psychotherapy is a form of art therapy where a person is healed by the means of reading. Similarly, music, poetry, prose, painting, dance or any other form of art which evokes feelings in the mind, elevates consciousness and cures the problem of the diseased falls under Art Therapy. Children or adults with disabilities, behavioral problems, mental issues, stress disorders respond to art or express themselves through art to heal themselves. Trained Art therapists are aware of the psychological subtext of the problem of the patient, and help one in identifying what source of art could be of great advantage in the process of healing.
Carl Jung used mandalas in his psychotherapy by getting patients, who had no knowledge of it, to create individual mandalas. This enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.
Art therapy is not limited to curing just mental illness, but several studies have concluded that art therapy plays an integral role in curing Cancer, Asthma, Diabetes, Fertility issues in women, after-effects of stroke etc. Medical science has proven that making art, drawing, painting, sculpture and collage, has a healing function that reduces the physiological stress triggered from a cancer diagnosis. The immune system then has a chance to heal and work at it’s best to relieve pain, depression, and raise the spirit.
However, art as therapy isn’t restricted to someone who is unwell. Introducing art in general in your daily life, will keep your state of mind healthy. Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Some find the art of gardening therapeutic, whereas, some find solace in listening to music. Find that fragment of art that suits you and make it a part of your life for the well-being of your mind, body and soul.
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