“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” This quote from Pablo Picasso illustrates one of the best things about making art. It allows us to express our feelings and talk about our lives in a unique way. Sometimes, expressing ourselves through art can even be therapeutic. But what is art therapy?
What Is Art Therapy?
Could something as simple as doodling on a sketch pad or painting at an easel really help you solve your problems? If you do it with a therapist, you might be surprised. Art therapy is a type of therapy that allows patients to explore their feelings, ideas, and emotions through creative expression, such as drawing or painting. For individuals who struggle with spoken or written expression, art therapy can be an excellent mental health tool. However, it can also be effective for anyone who wants to explore their feelings in a creative way.
Many people who do not thrive in a typical therapeutic environment love art therapy. Being able to be creative during therapy sessions can bring elements of fun and joy, which can be especially welcome when dealing with difficult subjects. It also allows people to develop new skills, and new-found confidence in their ability to express themselves.
Does Art Therapy Work for Seniors?
Even though it may seem unusual, art therapy can sometimes be the best option for seniors. Because spoken communication is not the goal, it is a great tool for those who struggle with conditions like aphasia, dementia, or Alzheimers. It allows those who are not confident expressing themselves verbally to still share their thoughts and feelings, which is extremely important for their mental well-being. Art therapy can even help the brain re-awaken connections to old memories and skills. It cannot cure memory or communication issues, but it can help seniors find new ways to express themselves to loved ones and the world at large.
These benefits aren’t just confined to seniors with communication issues. Many seniors avoid traditional therapy. In fact, up to 70 percent of seniors with mental health issues don’t even attempt to access therapy. Those that do often struggle because of the sharing and vulnerability that is required, or because they are pessimistic about the ability of talk therapy to give them genuine relief. Less than a third of seniors who seek mental health assistance remain through the duration of their recommended treatment.
Art therapy avoids these roadblocks by taking a different approach and emphasizing creative expression. Many seniors enjoy exercising their creative side enough that they don’t mind sharing their thoughts and emotions, and they will keep coming back if the process is enjoyable. Seniors who participate in art therapy report feeling engaged and excited about therapy, and show significant progress in dealing with depression and other issues.
How Can I Try Art Therapy?
If you’re curious about art therapy, you can try it on your own first. There are lots of self-directed art therapy activities available on the internet. If you do a little better with someone to guide you, seek out a credentialed art therapist in your area. You can also ask your doctor for a referral.
It’s also good to remember that you don’t need art therapy to experience the satisfaction that comes from making art. Any kind of engagement with the arts has been shown to have a positive impact on a senior’s mental health and overall well-being. Drawing, crafting, creative writing, and many other expressive art forms are already at your fingertips. Pick up a pen or paintbrush and see where it takes you!
What is art therapy? It’s a way to express thoughts and feelings through the creative arts, with the guidance of a professional. If traditional therapy isn’t for you, art therapy might be the perfect fit. Why not give it a try?
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