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Art is one of the oldest forms of expression and communication. From our earliest days, humans in all parts of the world have created works of art. Simplistic cave paintings, among the oldest remnants of primitive art, have been discovered from thousands of years ago.
With the progression of time, man’s ability to express himself utilizing art has developed into a variety of more complex mediums and styles; each impactful for communicating with viewers.
With the insight that creative expressions of art may be linked to our subconscious minds, many therapists today are now turning to art as a dynamic psychological treatment tool. They have discovered that even if the client is not consciously aware of certain feelings or emotions; these will often become exposed through artistic creations.
Whether the tortured writer is writing macabre poetry or an abused child creates dark and unhappy looking pictures; their inner thoughts are allowed to surface through their chosen medium. The reasoning behind this is the discovery that many people find it easier to express themselves via a non-threatening artistic means, rather than through verbal communication.
The art therapist offers a form of therapy that utilizes an art medium as the primary form of therapeutic expression. The therapists in this field of treatment help clients interpret and understand the feelings and emotions that are exhibited in their artistic expressions. Oftentimes, the actual process of creating art becomes therapeutic, in and of itself.
A qualified art therapist helps clients benefit from a variety of positive experiences. Expression through art can help a client feel more in control of their life, raise self-esteem and help them find an expression for their pain or confusion. In addition to effectively communicating with others; the creation of art also helps the client gain better insight into themselves.
The goal of an art therapist is to improve the well-being of a client. While art therapy can benefit all people, it is found to be particularly effective with young people. Young boys or girls seeking art therapy may suffer from a wide range of mental or emotional problems.
This form of therapy has been successful in helping children and teens cope with everyday stress, eating disorders, low self-esteem, abuse and other emotional and psychological disorders.
Those dealing with depression and stress disorders are found to greatly benefit from therapeutic care that integrates the art of painting, drawing or sculpture, as well as expression through music and songs, dance or drama.
Those entering an art therapy career are required to possess certain characteristics and traits. Professionals in this field should be excellent at communicating and listening. While they must be compassionate and non-judgmental; the therapist is also required to possess a certain degree of artistic talent. Along with being good at painting, drawing or sculpting, they should also be open to different forms and styles of artwork – including, music, dance and drama.
Image credit: mskcc.org
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