What is art therapy?

Art therapy can happen in many forms. In groups, with couples, with family, with individuals, and with a whole community.

Art therapy in its simplest definition expressing yourself through art, for our physical mental, and emotional well-being.

In art therapy there are three things that are present:
1) The artist or art-maker
2) The artwork, and
3)The art therapist.

The art therapist provides purposefully chosen and curated art materials, supporting the art maker, and helping them work towards a therapeutic goal.

How does art therapy work?

Art therapy works on many different levels and here I explain how it works on our body, mind, and soul.
In terms of our body art therapy involves our senses – our sight, our sense of touch, hearing, and even smell. Art therapy has advantages over verbal therapy because the art-making process involves interacting with materials, with tools, and It involves physical activity.

The body is involved in creating and that is a powerful thing. That is why it can feel very calming when we make art and we become more in tune with the present moment. We can release the past and we can release the future. The act of coordinated movement, seeing, and feeling with our senses during art-making help regulate our heartbeat, our breath, and even our muscle tone.

In terms of mind, art therapy works in many ways.
In art therapy, we can communicate non-verbally through images. This can be easier to do compared to using words only. It can be safer to use images than words and most of our memories are stored in images, so art therapy helps us access those memories.

When you do art therapy you are activating both sides of the brain integrating both the left and right hemispheres. This helps with having more balance in our mental states and in our experiences and it helps reduce stress.


During our therapy, we can access the subconscious memories and experiences that we store in the right brain and consciously explore them with our left brain, and this makes art therapy a whole-brain healing method.
Art therapy combines the process of both healing through bodily experience and through thinking.

To give you an example there are two kinds of therapy or healing methods:
One that is mind-based like talk therapy and one that is body-based, like float therapy or exercise.
And art therapy is wonderful in that it is both at the same time – both mind and body-based which can be very powerful.

They say about 95% of our actions are based on our subconscious because our subconscious speaks more readily in a visual language – in a nonverbal language. Art therapy can help us tap into our emotions underneath our consciousness and give us a tool to express them.
On a soul level, art therapy is a spiritual practice as well because it helps us connect with our soul and our higher being, allowing us to become more self-aware and connect to what is intangible and to what is bigger than us.

Also, art therapy helps us make meaning out of our life and the feelings and thoughts we experience. It empowers us to see pain, transform it, and create our own meaning from it. It gives us a sense of direction and ultimately a purpose in life, as we humans are creative beings.

What questions do you have about art therapy? Let me know in the comments below.

Indrajeet Bose
Indrajeet Bose
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