Tuesday Therapy Notes: Art Therapy

Welcome once again to Tuesday Therapy Notes, the weekly series that examines some of the types of therapy that are out there, as well as some of the issues that are involved with therapy. This week, we will be discussing art therapy.

Art therapy is something I have limited experience with, mostly because I’ve never been a fan of art. Writing was always my outlet. That said, I do have an adult coloring book, You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual For Dangerous Minds by one of my favorite authors, Jenny Lawson. I like it because there is no drawing involved and it is okay if I color outside the lines (in fact, judging by Jenny’s writings she’d approve of that).

However, while this might be fun and therapeutic for me, it doesn’t count as official art therapy, because that is supposed to be done by a certified art therapist. And while I wish Jenny counted as one, she isn’t.

Clinically speaking, the American Art Therapy Association notes that art therapy is used to “improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.”

And literature reviews examining the effectiveness of art therapy for those living with mental health conditions and for individuals suffering from various types of trauma done by the National Institute of Health found some positive results. Specifically, they found that art therapy led to improvement for those living with mental health conditions, although the improvement wasn’t compared to traditional therapy, so it is difficult to know how it relates to other types of therapy. With traumatized individuals, the findings were more inconclusive, possibly indicating that the type of trauma experienced or the duration of the therapy may be key factors in the effectiveness of the therapy.

So if you are looking for new type of therapy to try, particularly if art is something you’ve typically enjoyed, than it may be worth trying art therapy.

P.S. If you would like to read more of Jenny Lawson’s stuff, you can check out her blog at The Bloggess.

P.P.S. I should also probably include the link to the NIH study I referenced above, so here is that.

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