Art comes in many different forms, including music, photography, writing, sculpting, sewing, drawing, acting, gardening, painting, cooking, dancing, etc. With all the different types of art, art can mean something unique to everyone! Art excites or inspires a person’s senses, imagination, and creativity. As well, art can help an individual improve his/her physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Therefore, art is important because it allows people to express themselves and have an “outlet.”
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a mental health profession. It combines art and therapy in order to help adults and children heal, communicate, and improve their lives overall. It focuses on the creative process as a way to help people deal with different emotions and situations. Through art, they can work on reducing stress, increasing self-awareness, and communicating messages in a unique, hands-on way.
It is a set of standards and techniques to try to recognize the hidden messages communicated through art in order to help assess and treat problems, such as issues with relationships, substances, trauma, disabilities, illnesses, and anxiety. Very often my goals as a therapist will focus on the creative expression in developing the imagination, communication and socialization skills. These are all areas that are being worked on in school, home and other therapies. However, sometimes art can simple be used in a more non-directed way and purely allow an individual to experience the sensory elements of the materials.
In the field, using the model of “Art as Therapy”, there is a process that allows individuals to experience the creative aspect with little direction. This then allows them to gain insight and open up to their feelings in their own time. However, with the population of Autism, I see the “Art as Therapy” model more about the intrinsic sensory processes and believe that it can benefit the child that needs to “just have fun” with the creative activities. Having fun and engaging in this experience can then ultimately regulate the senses, emotions and behaviors.