We’re so used to popping a pill whenever we feel sick, sad, or tired. While these medicines do help in strengthening the body, believers of wholistic healing also believe that we should also “treat” the spirit. And one of the best ways to do this is through creative therapy.
Creative therapy or art therapy encourages people to turn to creative expression—writing in a journal, pottery, painting, music, dance, or any kind of artistic endeavor—to help manage depression, release stress, and identify any kind of patterns that need to change, or emotions that need to be addressed.
It may sound hokey, but there is scientific research that links stress, depression or negative thinking to lower immune systems, increased blood pressure, and slower recovery time. Art acts as a positive outlet or a powerful tool for insight and behavioral change. It does not substitute for other traditional treatments, but it complements them.
There are different types of creative therapies. Some are art therapy (such as painting or drawing), dance or movement therapy (which can also be incorporated with physical therapy), and music therapy (listening to uplifting music). Less formal creative therapies include keeping art journals.
While many hospitals have resident art therapists or creative therapists, you can initiate your own informal program. Just writing regularly in your diary or signing up for your community’s watercolor class can do wonders to your mood. There are also many CD compilations of relaxing music, some of which are designed to trigger brainwaves and bring you to a more relaxed state.
While it’s possible to find your own ways to do creative therapy, there are benefits to working with a trained professional therapist. He or she can help you analyze your work and break through some patterns. The therapist can also give guide questions or activities to help you reach an insight or achieve a breakthrough, or design a program around your needs and interests.
You can find a professional and licensed therapist through the American Art Therapy Association, the American Music Therapy Association, and the American Dance Therapy Association. Doctors can also refer you to a professional art therapist, or a center that offers creative therapy sessions.
Some people are more comfortable in one on one creative therapy sessions, since they want to feel that their privacy is protected. Others prefer group therapy where they can share their experiences with others and benefit from the emotional support and encouragement.
Photo from art-therapist.org