How Art Therapy Can Help Someone With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Art therapy is an increasingly popular form of mental health treatment. Studies show that it has positive effects on mental health. This fact has been recognized by major insurance companies that cover the cost of treatment. 

As a result of this widespread recognition and understanding, more hospitals across the country are adding this therapy as an available option for their patients. Although the specifics are different depending on the facility, some general steps are universally accepted as beneficial to those who seek treatment.

Benefits of Art Therapy

First, art therapy is geared toward developing personal well-being. By participating in the exploration of art therapy and working with a qualified art therapist, patients can better understand their unique psychological characteristics and learn how to manage them. 

Patients may benefit from learning about their history, their relationships with others, their dreams, and their purpose in life. According to Mindkshetra, by engaging in the creative process of art therapy, patients can also be well-informed about their mental health and can improve their interpersonal and work skills as they adjust to their new situation and the changes that may occur as a result of receiving treatment.

The second benefit of art therapy is its inherent ability to enhance emotional health. In the same way that art encourages self-reflection and personal growth, it also allows the patient to express their feelings and work through issues that may be inhibiting their happiness or emotional well-being. 

Art can provide an opportunity for clients to work on improving or healing relationships, such as with their family and friends. Additionally, art makes it possible for participants in the artmaking process to express ideas and emotions that they may not have been able to do otherwise, allowing the therapist to offer feedback that may help the client discover new areas of motivation or need for support.

The third benefit is that art therapy works. Art has the power to effect change. When a person feels strongly about an issue or is troubled by something in their life, they are likely to speak up about it. However, speaking up is not always easy, especially if those speaking up do not feel comfortable doing so in front of others. For this reason, art therapy can provide a safe, anonymous space in which the client can explore how their thoughts are influencing their behaviour, feelings, and behaviours, and discover new insights and feelings as a result.

Finally, art therapy works because it allows the client to take control. In this age of “trendy” design and customization, clients often resist accepting responsibility for the effect they are having on others. In response, art-making and expression can serve as a way of asserting control over one’s mental health and well-being. 

While art cannot make anyone happy, it can help people who are under pressure to conform to social expectations to be accepted and valued within a given culture. This, in turn, can have a beneficial impact on the mental health of everyone who engages in the creative process.

Additional Benefits

Beyond the art therapy work itself, there are many other ways in which art can benefit mental health. Through the exploration of emotions, the therapist helps clients discover how their behaviours are influencing their feelings and emotions. 

For example, if a client feels anxious about an upcoming event but cannot easily pinpoint what is causing their anxiety, the therapist may ask the client to focus on anything that brings an emotional response to the mind such as an object, colour, or shape. From this, the client will learn how to better identify negative emotions, which in turn, will allow them to develop healthier coping strategies. The same techniques can be used to help clients learn how to cope with negative physical responses to everyday events such as pain or discomfort.

Who Can Benefit From Art Therapy

Art therapy is also effective for older adults and people with varying degrees of disabilities. Some examples include the following: stroke recovery, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, and chronic illnesses. Art therapy is so diverse that it is even used in the most traditional settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centres. 

It has been proven to help improve overall wellness by creating a sense of wellness through emotion and visual expression. It can also promote self-esteem, provide relaxation, increase social interaction and communication skills and assist in the development of new abilities or resources that may have previously been unavailable.

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