Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Benefits of Art Therapy

Frank Gual


Although years ago the interior of many hospitals was plain drab whiteness, this is now an anomaly. Today there is plenty of proof that patients feel better and heal faster when they are surrounded by walls adorned with cheery uplifting works of art. It can be as simple as a mural painted on the wall, or framed paintings, tapestries, or sculpture.

Forest scenes under bright rainbows, a glowing sunrise, or colorful tropical fish, they all have the power to be a healing force. Art therapy programs have now become well established in varied medical and psychiatric settings, such as for helping people with post traumatic stress, victims of physical or emotional abuse, the terminally ill and those with developmental disabilities.

The concentration needed to make art crowds out stress and anxiety, and brings a calming effect which improves self-esteem and reduces the need for medication. Medical schools have recognized the beneficial effects of creative arts therapy on patients, and now make it part of their medical curriculum. Instead of being enveloped by cold and impersonal whiteness, patients are now surrounded by bright, colorful warmth.

Art therapy is often useful for people who have a difficult time expressing their feelings verbally. By drawing, finger painting, making figures in sand, or even placing figures representing people and animals in some order, it can help their therapist understand what may be bothering them. After doing some art therapy training, a patient may feel more confident, and empowered enough to trust their therapist and begin talking about their problems. This will allow the healing process to begin.

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