ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: ART THERAPY

A branch of psychotherapy , art therapy is used as a means of understanding emotional and psychological problems and gaining release from them. People know intuitively that creative self-expression is a way of healing oneself, and artistic expression is one such way of doing so. No artistic skill is needed, but through the creative process itself many problems can be addressed, including depression, low self-esteem and relationship difficulties. Art therapy is especially effective with severely disturbed people who find it difficult to express their feelings verbally.

An art therapist, through interpreting the meaning of the art produced by the client or patient, can uncover problems that may be deeply buried and that might otherwise take years of regular counselling to uncover. The therapist hopes to come to an understanding of the client and thereby help him or her towards making fresh discoveries about the self and about life. The process of creating something through visual means can help people to detach themselves from feelings or problems that might be difficult or impossible to express verbally or that are otherwise too overwhelming to deal with.

Art therapy utilizes colour and patterns using pencils, crayons, paint and any other colourful medium to try to bring whatever is lying in the subconscious to the visual consciousness. Collages, sculpture, paintings and drawings can all express unexpected angst in the artist in a very immediate way, and this method often bypasses the self-censoring process with which we may block out disturbing feelings and thoughts.

The British Association of Art Therapists is an expanding group and registered therapists can be found throughout the UK, USA and many other countries. Art therapists will differ in their interpretive approach depending on their school of thought, which could be Freudian or Jungian, or might put more emphasis on interpretation of the artwork by the clients themselves.

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