If you’ve lost touch with your artistic side, it may be time to dip your fingers in a pot of paint like you did when you were a child. Whether you prefer ink, pencil, or clay, art therapy can help you express yourself and even combat the stresses of daily life.
The Benefits of Art Therapy
While art therapy is used to help patients work through PTSD and get in touch with their inner feelings, it can be used as a lighter way to alleviate stress at the same time. There are a number of reasons why art can be so effective in easing stress and anxiety. To begin with, it works as a distraction. When you’re focused on creating something new, you don’t have time to worry about what’s stressing you out, if only for a few moments. Creative activities can also help our minds relax and tap into the subconscious. Art therapy can serve as a form of meditation, using parts of the brain we don’t always utilize. And simply the act of taking time out for something creative is an excellent form of self-care, leaving you with a beautiful end product.
Techniques and Project Ideas
One of the basic theories of art therapy is encouraging creativity and self-expression. While other forms of therapy may rely on verbal conversation, art therapy can unlock feelings through other mediums. To this end, there are a number of techniques that can be employed.
1. Keeping a sketch diary
Journaling is a popular stress-reduction technique, and you can give this an art therapy twist by making it into a sketch diary instead of holding written words. Drawing daily can be a good way to tap into ideas and themes you may not be able to verbalize. Sketch pictures of your current feelings or things that you are worried about as a way to process these emotions. Art therapy patients can also sketch past events, future goals, or anything else that can be the root cause of stress.
2. Transforming a painting into a collage
In this common art therapy technique, you can create an initial painting on a piece of paper of anything you imagine. After this, cut it into pieces and use these as the foundation of a new piece of art. Watching an original work transform into something new can help you visualize ways to do the same thing to problems, and encourage creative risk-taking.
3. Drawing in the dark
Nervous about making art? Try doing it with the lights out. Armed only with a pencil and piece of paper, loosely draw shapes, lines, and patterns freehand-style. This helps free up your unconscious mind and the dark can be quite soothing as well.
4. Paint by touch
In this exercise, you’ll need cardboard, paint, a brush, and some clothes that you won’t mind getting messy. To get started, you’ll rub the paint on your hands and then transfer it to the cardboard. Choose colours that you feel like using, without worrying about the end product. In addition to using your hands, try using the back end of the brush to scrape patterns into the paint, working out your anger and hostility through this medium. Don’t be afraid to get messy!
You don’t have to be a professionally trained artist to enjoy the benefits of art therapy, and its impact can be far-reaching. Whether you want to improve your counselling skills to help others or simply reduce stress in your own life, learning more about the techniques used can help you reap the benefits. All it takes is a pen and paper, making art therapy a potential coping mechanism for an array of troubles.
Hands – By Stux on Pixbay
Watercolour – By Stux on Pixbay
Paint by touch – By Stux on Pixbay
Guest Author Bio
Rachel MacDonald is an Edinburgh-based freelance writer who has worked as a copywriter for businesses from Lima to San Francisco. She specializes in travel, design, and the arts.