Art therapy uses the means and techniques of visual art: different colours, clay, photos, installations and from techniques graphics, painting, making sculptures, photography and filming. In artistic self-expression both body and spirit are active, as the body reflects our emotions. Expressing ourselves through art media we come to the contact with ourselves and to others around us; this can support healing processes. The creative process itself could have stress relieving and balancing effect.
The effects of art therapy:
- coping with exhaustion in critical situations
- reduction of fears and depression
- release of stress and strain
- furthering of emotional, verbal and nonverbal communication
- improvement of self-esteem
- development of new perspectives and aims of life
- finding and using new resources
- social support/participation
Art therapy enables the clients to discover and experience their creative capacities in the creative process. In the analysis of pictures etc. created in this process they experience the consequences of their acts and attitudes. Creative activities enable better cognition, also they improve communication skills.
Additional reading and research:
Van Lith T, Fenner P, Schofield M. (2010). Art Therapy in Rehabilitation. In: JH Stone, M Blouin, editors. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation. Available online: http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/encyclopedia/en/article/131/
Puetz, T. W., Morley, C. A., & Herring, M. P. (2013). Effects of creative arts therapies on psychological symptoms and quality of life in patients with cancer. JAMA Internal Medicine, 173(11) , 960-969.
Reynolds F. (2012). Art therapy after stroke: Evidence and a need for further research. Arts in Psychotherapy 39(4 ):239-244.
Leckey J. (2011). The therapeutic effectiveness of creative activities on mental well-being: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 18(6):501-9.
Thyme KE, Sundin EC, Wiberg B, Oster I, et al. (2009). Individual
brief art therapy can be helpful for women with breast cancer: a
randomized controlled clinical study. Palliative and Supportive Care 7(1):87-95.
Waller D. (2006). Art therapy for children: how it leads to change. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 11(2):271-82.
Reynolds F, Prior S. (2003). 'A lifestyle coat-hanger': A
phenomenological study of the meanings of artwork for women coping with
chronic illness and disability. Disability and Rehabilitation 25(14):785-794.
Gonen J, Soroker N. (2000). Art therapy in stroke rehabilitation: A model of short-term group treatment. Arts in Psychotherapy 27(1):41-50.