“Art therapy is a form of therapy in making of visual images (paintings, drawings, models etc.) in the presences of a qualified art therapist contributes towards externalization of thoughts and feelings which may otherwise remain unexpressed”(Walter & Gilory, 1992).
My vision of Art Therapy was very vague. I always thought art therapy was a form of therapy for distressed or abused children trying to tell a story through pictures or drawings. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well being of individuals of all ages. Art therapy is a form psychotherapy that has been practiced for over sixty years and it has been promoted as a means of helping people who find it difficult to express themselves verbally (Crawford, et al., 2010). Art therapy sessions usually start with a form of relaxation such as deep breathing , progressive muscle relaxation, or setting an intention for the session ahead (Hart, 2010). Art therapy is used for several different types of people with diverse illnesses such as: Autism Spectrum Disorder, people living with HIV/AIDS, mental disorders and even Cancer. Studies show that art therapy can lead to increased self awareness of self, as well as improved ability to cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences (American Art Therapy Association). This form of therapy helps these patients express positive feelings that may not be easy to access in the midst of a fear provoking experience (Hart, 2010). Art therapy help people to identify their feelings, and resolve the issues associated with their illness. Although, my lack of knowledge on this therapeutic modality was very vague, I would have never known or understood the true meaning or the craft of art therapy.
People living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, use art therapy to improve social skills. Epps (2008) believes art therapy is necessary for children with this disorder because autistic people are mostly visual, concrete thinkers. This form of therapy helps them solve problems visually. Epps (2008) states that visual characteristics of art help patients, who often experience anxiety in social settings, to relax and enjoy themselves while they are learning social skills in a carefully controlled environment. The therapist use art therapy as a component in training for social skills because they believe it will increase the participation in children, simply because they find art acceptable. This form of therapy is great for Autistic people because it helps them deal with their issues in a non threatening way. It also helps the therapist see what the person is going through if the person is not ready to “talk” about their feelings.
For someone living with HIV/AIDS, I can only imagine all the negative thoughts that consume their minds on a daily basis. People living with this condition experience a great...