Art is an essential part of our lives, woven into the very fabric of our being. This universal language of creativity allows us to communicate our emotions, tell our stories, and explore our deepest thoughts. Art therapy harnesses this power of art and has emerged in recent years as a popular form of counseling and self-expression. This form of therapy uses the therapeutic power of art to help individuals overcome emotional, physical, and mental challenges.
Art therapy as a formal discipline emerged in the mid-20th century. British artist Adrian Hill coined the term art therapy in 1942 after discovering the therapeutic benefits of painting while recovering from tuberculosis. Other early pioneers such as Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer also Therapeutic potential of artistic expression In supporting people with mental health issues. Over time, the field grew.
Jasleen Kaur, a psychology major, image consultant, soft skills trainer and Dehradun-based life coach, said art has been proven to have significant therapeutic effects. She said, “Painting, drawing, music, dance, and other arts can greatly enhance mental well-being. “These creative activities have been used across cultures and ages to help individuals express emotions, reduce stress, and strengthen mental health,” she said.
Art provides a nonverbal means of self-expression and allows people to process their thoughts and feelings. “The goal of art therapy is to use the creative process to help people explore self-expression, and in doing so, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.” It’s about finding out,” Kaur said.
In India, the practice of art therapy is increasing significantly and its effectiveness in dealing with problems is being recognized. mental health Concerns. But how does art therapy work? We asked art therapists and organizations working in this field around the country for more information.
Ritu Dua, art therapist at Mental Health Center in Pune, explained that art therapy uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s mental, physical and emotional well-being. . “A variety of materials are used, including crayon and pencil paints, paint, clay, and wood. I have also incorporated nature in my own practice,” she said.
Dua said material plays a big role and the choice of material depends on the client’s concerns. “Each material has its own properties. In some cases, one child crayon Then pass the watercolor on to someone else. In our art therapy language, we classify art materials as structured and unstructured. Crayon is a structured material, whereas watercolor is unstructured. For example, if a person is going through some kind of emotional trauma, watercolors will move them emotionally. In some cases you may allow it, but you have to be very smart about it. So we’re going to offer more structured materials instead,” she elaborated.
Meanwhile, the Holistic Art Therapists Association (HATA) in Mumbai practices a very specific form of art therapy called the wet-on-wet technique, which was founded by Dr. Margarete Hauschka. “She developed it not necessarily to cure patients, but to prevent disease. She called it a ‘health-giving process,'” HATA founder Natasha Singh said in indianexpress told .com.
Because this technique deals with watercolor and fluidity, it prevents many hardening processes that can occur in the mind. “In this technique, we use watercolors on wet paper. We don’t necessarily work with an image in mind. It appears. In psychology, this is like a projection technique. We don’t create images, we discover images,” Singh added.
She says this form of art therapy helps people who come to her with a variety of issues, including: depression Anxiety about the problems associated with change and transition. “What this technique does is it helps you balance your thoughts, emotions, and actions. For people who tend to overthink, this technique can be very helpful in getting into a mindful space.” Mr. Shin said.
Dua also said that art therapy can help achieve overall well-being. “Everyone can benefit from art therapy, from children to the elderly and even cancer patients. Everyone is touched by art and creativity in some way. They engage their clients in simple but calming art activities such as drawing, painting, and clay sculpting. They use expressive means to facilitate them. Some people express their thoughts in words. “In such scenarios, art plays an important role. It allows children to express themselves,” she said.
Kamalika Guha Thakurta, founder and director of Artscape, Mumbai, echoed this sentiment, saying that people find it difficult to express themselves because they are disconnected from their emotions. “But when we engage with thoughts like that, we learn a lot about ourselves. It’s a very fluid way to get inside ourselves,” she said.
In addition to color, Artscape works on the full spectrum of the arts, including movement, music, bodywork, theater, storytelling, journaling, and more. At Artscape, we have explored how performing arts can be used beyond entertainment. As an artist, I wanted to use my knowledge to benefit and empower others. We work using multiple creative art-based tools,” actor and performing artist Guha Thakurta, who founded the organization in 2016, told indianexpress.com.
Regarding the difference from traditional talk therapy, Mr. Guha Thakurta said: “When you go to traditional counseling, the therapist and client sit across a table and talk. With art therapy, you can create a safe space where you can express yourself through different mediums. It’s very profound. It is a medium. It is a way of expressing ourselves through color, movement etc. Art allows us to connect with ourselves. In our sessions we are asked to participate, express and reflect. It is non- Because it is a linguistic experiential process, learning becomes your own.”
Dua, who guided us through the art therapy process, shared that it is a collaborative process. “When a client checks in, I as an art therapist try to gather as much information as possible about the client, including the factors that led them here. Next, I set treatment goals. Then , I give them art materials and let them have complete freedom in the first session because I need to build a therapeutic relationship with them. Once I can provide a safe space and a supportive environment, I can I will look further and see what kind of art materials are needed,” she said.
Clients create works based on instructions from art therapists. “Once a piece is completed, they are asked to reflect on what they have done. They share what emotions and thoughts they experienced while creating it and describe what they have created. “Rather than looking for hidden meanings, ask them directly. In most cases, positive changes are observed after a few sessions,” she added.
Even if you don’t feel comfortable joining an art therapy group, you can start a practice from home. “To begin art therapy at home, try different art mediums and see which ones bring you joy. You should not start with fear or consequences in mind. For people who are reluctant to express themselves verbally, art therapy is the best way to start,” said Shin.
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Reminiscing about when Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan were dating, Farida Jalal said, “They would pick us up at night and go for long drives.”
Guha Thakurta suggested journaling (writing down your thoughts) and listening to music as great ways to do art therapy at home. “It’s a tool that allows you to keep a diary where you can express your emotions privately. That way, you can engage with them and let go of what you want or hold onto it. Another easy way is to “It’s about actively listening to music. Expressing it in any way is important,” she said.
However, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be an artist to practice art therapy. “Whether you draw a straight line or a curved line, that is your expression. That is how you feel right now. There is no right or wrong answer. There is nothing called wrong. That is the main idea,” Dua concluded.
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