Addressing Anxiety And Depression Using Art Therapy

Depression and anxiety are the common mental illness that we all might experience. It is the conditions that we understand can eventually make our lives miserable. In some unfortunate events, it can even make us forget our purpose in life and entirely take control of our decisions and actions. So with all the negative things that depression and anxiety give to us, are we aware of the proper ways of handling them? Well, we all have our various methods of coping with any kinds of mental illnesses. As for me, I indulge myself with art. And with the help of art therapy, I can probably say I find it more exciting and comfortable to express how I feel.


People’s False Impression On Art

Art can bring a lot of confusions and different reactions to specific individuals. That’s because some of them are entirely not into making art and some are stuck in the idea that they are not creative or talented enough for it. It is also possible that others have a negative experience with art in the past. That explains why we know someone who hasn’t made a single art piece since their elementary days. Yes, there are also those people who do not get interested in arts because they think of it as a waste of time, invaluable habit, expensive, or something that doesn’t need attention. But I certainly assure that people will not need confidence or any artistic skills to try art therapy. There is no wrong way of making art, and I believe that anyone can participate in creating one. As Elena Lamaak, MA, LMHC explains it, “The art *process* itself is where the magic happens! It is not about making “good” art — this art is from the inside and it is not always going to look “pretty.”

We might not directly see art’s connection to our mental state. But for most of us, what we picture in our minds are not accurately the things that come out through our hands. There is a tendency that we are not capable of delivering our thoughts into a visual representation. But through art therapy, there is a room for an explanation on what we make and show in our art. It gets described as something more important rather than what we think it should look like or what it needs to be.


So Exactly What Is Art Therapy?

For clarification, art therapy is NOT an instructional art class. There’s no teaching someone how to make or create art. Its goal is entirely different. It’s not an activity that attempts to master a particular artistic skill. It helps in knowing different types of media and supplies though. Art therapy encourages people to experiment and play with art materials

Art therapy is a modality that caters mental health through creating art accompanied by professional counseling therapist. “Art therapy can help improve various mental and pysical symptoms including, but not limited to, reducing pain, anxiety, and tension. It can be beneficial to those who have mental disorders, severe or light emotional abuse, cancer, post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), people who are bipolar, and a variety of other serious ailments.” Douglas Mitchell, LMFT said. The process intends to bring together spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological care by offering creative ways. It allows patients to respond to their imagination and transfer it to visual representation. It is vital to understand that art therapy is a form of psychological treatment. Since art-making itself is therapeutic, it can transcend words, colors, and shape, into a voice or feeling that appear lost for words.


One thing that people can love about art therapy is its process of exploring a variety of issues that may come up with a particular mental illness. Since it proves to ease emotional pain and stress, it can release a different perception of experiences often stored in the non-verbal parts of our brain. So when we try to create art by focusing on stressful and painful events in our lives, it helps the brain in shifting its gears. From there, we get to process memories and stuck up thoughts at a deeper level of understanding. It makes us compare and view our self and our experiences differently rather than just talking about it. That’s because the “art” we are focusing on the therapy is not just about a compilation of creation and imagination. It is something that allows us to communicate with ourselves and others. It helps us express our thoughts through visual representation without the worry of not getting too realistic.

In art therapy, there’s no judging, criticizing or interpreting an artwork. Everything about it will base on how we look at the results from the visuals we make. So for me, it’s ideally a way to tell the world that I understand things around me.

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