What is art therapy? Who is it for? What problems does this technique solve? Can you practice art therapy on your own? We asked the profile specialist and coach Polina Davi.
“Art has long been used in psychology for solving many mental problems: resolving childhood grievances, normalizing the psycho-emotional state, removing blocks that hinder the realization of their life plans. I know that many psychotherapists are skeptical about this technique, not recognizing it as an independent school. But even they do not argue with the fact that art therapy gives excellent results in combination. I'll tell you what its features are."
In the late 30s of the last century, while undergoing treatment for tuberculosis at the Midhurst resort, the doctor Adrian Hill noticed that drawing allows him to distract himself from the disease, improving his psycho-emotional state and mood. Further more. Hill went to teach drawing at a center where soldiers who participated in the Second World War were being rehabilitated. The classes helped the brave officer to reduce the level of psychological stress. In 1942 he introduced a new term, art therapy, and described in detail its mechanism of action in the book Art Against Disease.
Other specialists soon joined Hill. Artist Edward Adams, for example, who worked at the British mental hospital Nethern, created open studios where patients could engage in creativity. He called his style of work with patients "non-interference".
Dr. Edith Kramer also contributed to the development of art therapy. She practiced this direction with children. And in 1958 she published the book "Art therapy in children", which experts still use as an auxiliary tool.
Art therapy technique
The art therapy method is based on projections. I think that all signs are a technique that psychologists often use in diagnostics - drawing a non-existent animal. It is very effective as a diagnostic tool for both children and adults. And there is a logical explanation for this. Problems that are difficult to pronounce are easily reflected on paper, helping the specialist to find the point from which to work.
I like to practice flow drawing and mandalotherapy, which allows you to look deeper and determine what a person really wants.
Although there are many techniques, and in each case you need to use your own. This is a good alternative to classical psychotherapy that allows you to: identify blocks, clamps and fears that prevent you from realizing your dreams, determine your true needs, work through childhood grievances and difficult problems in the past.
Art therapy is universal. It can be used for emotional lability, stress, problems in personal life, increased anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome. This is a great alternative for those who, for some reason, do not want to visit a psychologist. This practice reduces the level of pain and anxiety - a fact verified and confirmed by numerous studies.
I will give a simple and understandable example: by drawing pain, you can analyze how it affects daily life and mood, and therefore correct your behavior.
Types of art therapy
Art therapy is not just a story about drawing. But this is really one of the most popular destinations. Especially when working with neurotic and psychological disorders in children and adolescents.
With the right approach, all types of art can have a therapeutic effect on a person: bibliotherapy (writing and reading books with a certain intonation), music therapy, drama therapy, puppet therapy and others.
Art therapy has many tasks: organizing a socially acceptable form of negative emotions release, stabilizing the psycho-emotional state, working out the change process, increasing concentration, increasing self-esteem, facilitating the treatment of concomitant diseases.
The main "commandments" of art therapy
I want to convey to everyone that you can start practicing art therapy at home - you don't have to go to a specialist right away. And even in this case, it will give a positive result. It is important to follow a few basic rules here.
First, don't be shy. In art therapy, it's not the task of painting beautifully. Its main function is to give the inner outlet to the outside world. Before starting a session, I highly recommend doing a meditation to calm down, relax and tune in to the right wave.
The third rule is analysis. After the drawing is ready, analyze. To understand its meaning, it is not necessary to go to a psychotherapist. Let me explain. Art therapy refers to the "insight-oriented" technique, which is also called the "aha-effect". This means that, looking at their creations, a person can understand a lot about himself, including problems and fears that prevent him from moving forward. Don't throw away the drawings! Come back to them and analyze every day, discovering new facets.
The third rule is streaming. Don't focus on what you are about to paint. Let the lines and shapes come by themselves. And remember that drawing in itself is very helpful in calming down and reducing stress.
The fourth rule is the variety of colors. Before starting the process, provide yourself with a wide color palette. Buy gouache, pencils, felt-tip pens - everything that will allow you to draw your inner state. The color gamut prevailing in the picture plays a huge role in the diagnosis.
Fifth, work on traditional archetypes. Psychologists say that by painting a house, family, trees and other images we are used to, you can quickly achieve instinct. Get started today!