The virtues of art as therapy

The virtues of art as therapy

One of the major goals of therapy is to maximise the quality of life and wellbeing of the patient. While focusing on physical health is essential in caring for someone, the need to tend to the emotional and psychological elements are just as important.

One of the proven, effective therapies that can help patients is art therapy. Focusing on the creative process of making art, art therapy helps improve a patient’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.  

Expression through art 

Patients are able to express themselves through their artistic creativity resulting in helping patients resolve issues, manage behaviours, improve self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety.

Art therapy is useful for various purposes such as to help patients heal, rehabilitate, undergo psychotherapy, and to have a deeper understanding of themselves. The therapeutic associations of creating art help those who have experienced trauma and life challenges to cope better with the symptoms of stress and anxiety stemming from their experiences. Above the therapeutic advantages of art therapy, it also has the added benefit of enhancing cognitive abilities while enjoying a sense of fulfillment for the creative process of art. 

Art can be used to communicate thoughts, feelings, past experiences, and can often act as symbolism of their current situation. A picture is, after all, worth more than a thousand words.

The process of art therapy can be as straightforward as asking a patient to reflect on their artistic creations and apply it to themselves. For those who have difficulty in communicating, images can portray a higher sense of communication over words. Through art, these patients are able to express difficult ideas they wouldn’t otherwise be able to put into words. This can help cement their thoughts and beliefs as a physical reflection and reminder from their artwork. 

Those who face intellectual challenges can benefit from art therapy through the use of imagery and pictures as a representation of abstract concepts. It is also a less adversarial form of psychological therapy when compared to other more confrontational methods. As art therapy focuses on the patient’s inner desire to express themselves through colour, images, and symbolism, it helps them externalise their problems, emotions and feelings. Therapists are then able to analyse the artwork through a client’s interpretation of their experience, allowing them to understand the situation better. 

Art therapy isn’t just beneficial to those who are facing life issues, and can significantly benefit those who need stress and anxiety relief. The peacefulness of creating something that is unique with a representation of who you are puts art therapy at the forefront of helping patients ease their worries during the creative process. This is highly applicable to patients who are elderly, given their livid life experiences and possible medical problems. 

Art therapy for older patients 

For aged care home services, the use of art therapy can be very soothing and relaxing for patients. From knitting, stitching to craft work and painting, the range of art therapy creations are vast. With the ability to have a physical representation of their creation, elder folks have expressed their pride of creating meaningful art that represents them.

Studies have shown that art therapy helps improve cognitive function in older adults, as well as the obvious pleasures and self-motivating elements of creating art. The United States’ Alzheimer’s Disease Center reports that art therapy improves memory function as the process has a profound impact through exploiting parts of the brain that is least impaired. 

Further, the repetitive movements of the arms and hands for art can help reduce stiffness and inflammation in seniors. While the physical activity is considered light, the consistency of it helps promote increased dexterity and blood flow. Coordination is also improved with the added benefit of focusing on art away from their pains. 

Overall, art therapy has many significant benefits as a form of psychological therapy that is calming and relaxing for patients young and old. 

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