Why Using An Art Therapist Can Be Beneficial

By Ina Hunt

For some people traditional methods of therapy may not work. They may be resistant and find it hard to talk about difficult issues. In some cases it may be because they are not confident with their verbal skills. In other instances it may be because they do not want to verbally communicate and this instance an art therapist may work as either an additional therapy or as an alternative to a more traditional discussion with a patient.

From the early days of Freud and Jung most therapists have known about the power of creativity. They will have noted how the things people make in their creative projects may be symbols of deeper subconscious issues. A classic example of this was the ink blot Rosarch test in which patients looked at an ink blot and told the therapist what they thought it represented.

It was only in the middle of the twentieth century that art therapy began to be more formalised. Nowadays it is recognised as a valid treatment both in terms of being a complement to other forms of treatment and as a method of treating patients in and of itself. It can be used in a variety of different ways and help a variety of different people.

In effect the idea is that anyone being treated has an equal chance of receiving a positive benefit from the treatment. It may be applied in different ways such as part of their rehabilitation or as a form of psychotherapy. However the act itself is often enough to get people thinking beyond what they would normally talk about with their friends, family and even sometimes illustrate more than they would be able to discuss verbally with a therapist.

In other cases a patient may be capable of verbal communication but may be too traumatised to discuss this. For example if a child has been abused or an adult has gone through a similar traumatic event then they are less likely to talk about it, even if the therapist does their best to create a comfortable, non threatening environment. They may become quiet or in the more severe cases lash out in an aggressive way.

A therapist in this field will be trained in both art and in therapy. This will allow them to professionally supervise the creative process but also keep in mind the purpose of the exercise. Often someone working on a piece will not realise the subconscious symbols in their work.

However the creative process allows for a more objective perspective for both the therapist and the patient. By not directly talking about issues it ironically often becomes easier to discuss them. Over time this can then make treatment easier as a patient becomes more used to expressing themselves.

There are a number of independent therapists and professionals who are part of treatment units. You can find out more about services in your local area by looking online as well as getting recommendations from patients or carers that have used their services in the past. If you are willing to look help is available and even patients who have had severe problems can learn to cope with the right treatment or combination of treatments.

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