by Katlyn Eriksen
Creating art has many therapeutic benefits. Art therapy is being used more and more across healthcare to help ease the burden and improve outcomes for people with a range of different health conditions or learning disabilities such as autism.
For people with autism, creating art has many benefits, for one it is thought to complement the way that their minds work as research shows autistic people tend to think in pictures, and it has also been proven to help people with autism develop and improve their interpersonal skills as well as helping teach them how to process and manage their emotions.
The power of the creative process
There is a great deal of scientific evidence now that shows that art can enhance brain function and improve well-being as well as relieve stress. Immersing oneself in the creative process is thought to greatly help people with depression and anxiety, turning the tides away from destruction to creation helps induce positive feelings and emotions. It can also help improve motivation and boost the brain’s ability to focus and concentrate which is of great benefit to people with anxiety and depression.
The American Journal of Public health states that “Research appears to indicate that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress and mood disturbance.” Fortunately, art is such a wide-ranging and varied medium, that is creates so many possibilities and opportunities for different forms of self-expression, even something as simple as spending an hour or two on a drawing or colouring in can offer a range of important therapeutic benefits and improve well-being.
Art and healthcare
Art therapy is being used now across healthcare to increase the quality of life for people with a range of different health conditions both physical and mental. The Wellarts Association highlights the importance of art therapy in health care in the following quote.
“The arts are a critical component of healthcare. Expressive art is a tool to explore, develop and practice creativity as a means to wellness.”
The fact that art provides a different means of communication and self-expression is really the key, because of this it can be helpful for people with a range of different health conditions.
Helping people heal
For example, people who have suffered past trauma may sometimes struggle to put their feelings and emotions into words. Using art to express themselves instead can help them process their pain or express their grief in a creative and therapeutic way in a controlled environment.
Moulding objects out of clay has been to shown to be particularly effective for victims of past trauma and abuse, the tactility involved can help people express their feelings on a physical level, offering a cathartic release.
Improving memory for dementia patients
Creating art has also been shown to improve cognitive function and memory as well as help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in dementia patients which can be quite common. One study showed a 70% success rate in improving the memory of a group of dementia patients through art therapy.