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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Art is for Everyone

I did a little online research on Art Therapy the other day and learned some remarkable things. But before I get into that, I want to share with you that to be an art therapist, one must complete a Masters level education in addition to the required art courses, training and experience.

Art Therapy is one of the numerous therapeutic techniques we employ at Samaritan. I even had the opportunity to experience it. I found it both interesting and effective in helping me learn more about myself.art clip

I can affirm, as a trained artist who engages in diverse art forms, that during the creative process I experience a deep, focused sense of well-being. It’s almost “trancelike.” To be clear, I’m not even talking about art as a therapeutic tool during counseling, but my own personal experience as an artist. The more engrossed I become in my work, the greater my sense of satisfaction. I grow excited—even intrigued by “what’s coming out of me.” Anyway, if someone were to tell me that the creative process releases a flood of endorphins, I would be the first to agree!

Now for the research…The amazing healing effects of art have been recognized for more than a century—and you need not be an artist to benefit from it. The act of being creative helps us release deeply felt emotions, which aids in healing and reducing stress. Today, many medical centers incorporate it into their inpatient care. In addition to its usefulness in medical settings, art therapy can be a valuable tool in schools, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, prisons and more.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense reported that art therapy has been used to successfully treat members of the military suffering from brain injuries and psychological health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Clinical case studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of art therapy in treating a wide range of issues, including autism, coping with cancer and bone marrow transplants, eating disorders, addictions and mood disorders—to name a few. It has also proven beneficial in helping traumatized kids recover from the effects of sexual abuse, emotional impairment and burn injuries. Furthermore, art therapy is also used to enhance the quality of life for the elderly. To learn more, I encourage you to visit the websites below. And do go out and buy yourself a box of those 64 wonderful crayons! Ah, the memories…

References: The American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org; The American Art Therapy Association, www.arttherapy.org.; The U.S. Department of Defense www.defense.gov, March 2012.