Expressing feelings through creative activities such as painting, drawing and sculpture can create an image of people's emotions. Viewed as a cathartic and non-threatening way of venting repressed feelings, art therapy can help people gain confidence and bolster self-esteem. It is a particularly effective way of communicating for those with mental and emotional problems, or those with learning difficulties. Art therapy has been shown to be highly beneficial for people battling with eating disorders, addictions and stress. It has also been known to help those coming to terms with bereavement, and those suffering from Alzheimer's and other terminal illnesses. Many hospitals, prisons and institutions employ art therapists.
The traumas experienced by soldiers in the Second World War gave rise to the widespread use of art therapy, helping men express themselves non-verbally. In the 19th century, this form of treatment was advocated by eminent scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner who believed that art had a role in healing. Later, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud recognised that art therapy gave insight to a patient's subconscious. Art therapy is now recommended by psychiatrists and psychotherapists around the world.
What to Expect
As a client your condition will be gently assessed by your art therapy practitioner who will discuss many aspects of your life, your problems, and your expectations. You will be encouraged to create freely, changing mediums if required - for instance going from working with crayons on paper to using clay or paints. Treatment is often conducted over a series of sessions. With skilful interpretation of resulting 'artwork', a therapist can help you the client review emerging issues, and explore your feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
Training & Colleges
Qualified practitioners will have undertaken a two-year, full-time postgraduate diploma course.