Have you ever wondered why early humans scribbled on walls and stones?
Why they created stunning portraits?
Why they made those marvelous sculptures?
Because humans are expressive!
Although we no longer write on stones in caves, our desire to express and share it with others has been the same. By sharing our thoughts, feelings, and aspirations with others, we feel heard and understood and enjoy a sense of belonging. We rarely see someone withholding their great scientific breakthrough or a grand wedding celebration without sharing it with others.
In fact, new-age tech platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter thrive on people’s need for expression.
What happens when we don’t express ourselves?
We silence of thoughts, feelings, questions, perspectives, and everything that we lose our individuality and voice. Not expressing oneself can be damaging to one’s professional and personal life. Especially in a work setting, not speaking up and saying yes to unreasonable demands at work can be overwhelming.
This could lead to a build-up of frustration, anger, and stress and may even physically show up in our bodies as pains and aches.
Creative art therapies will not solve one’s communication-related problems or other mental health issues in one day. However, it will provide you with the tools to manage stress from the daily grinds of life.
So, what are creative art therapies?
Creative art therapy uses different forms of expressive techniques and activities to improve people’s overall emotional and mental well-being.
Mental issues arise not just due to suppression. Conditions such as grief, anxiety, stress, and others get exaggerated when we live in the past or the future. So, if we train ourselves to live in the present, we can be much happier.
This is where creative art therapies are useful – It brings our attention to the present moment by engaging our senses and mind.
Why creative arts therapy?
Creative therapies can be the best medium for self-expression. From a psychological treatment standpoint, talk therapy may not be everyones’ cup of tea.
Hence, creative art intervention can help us express our emotions more constructively and avoid us from engaging in unhealthy habits such as overthinking, excessive drinking, binge-watching, overeating, substance abuse, etc.
Types of creative art therapies
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Mozart!
Music is proven to improve the emotional well-being of individuals. It is one activity that engages all parts of the brain, offering various benefits such as stress reduction, pain, improved cognitive functioning, improvement in mood, etc.
It is a commonly asked question whether knowing music is essential for taking music therapy. The good news is that prior music knowledge is not a prerequisite.
In a group therapy session, a trained professional can conduct activities such as finger snapping, clapping, lyrics writing, body tapping, etc., which do not require any formal music training.
Also, music-based interventions are scientifically proven to manage excessive anger. According to the study, Influence of Music Therapy on Coping Skills and Anger Management in Forensic Psychiatric Patients, music therapy helped prisoners to manage their rage and associated violent behavior.
Even just listening to music is proven to offer mental health benefits. A new study published in The Journal of Pain has found that listening to music can be effective in reducing pain in high-anxiety individuals.
No, it’s not about being a Leonardo Di Caprio.
Drama therapy comprises various activities such as storytelling, roleplay, puppetry, improvisation, play, games, and others. For example, a therapist might ask the participants to come up with a story for a given topic. This drives the participants to drift from their current selves temporarily to be the characters in the play.
The therapist may probe deeper questions, ask participants to propose alternative endings to the story, and enact a character differently as a way to surface multiple perspectives.
Drama therapy is effective to deal with trauma, family conflicts, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Also, European Psychiatric Association’s official journal, European psychiatry, published a study in 2009 that concluded drama therapy to be effective in reducing symptoms of social anxiety in participants.
Dance and move your way!
The American Dance Therapy Association defines it as the therapeutic use of movement to integrate the mind and the body to improve our well-being. It is rooted in the premise that our mind and body are interconnected.
Through activities such as mirroring, Simon says, stretching, free-style dancing, etc, a trained DMT practitioner enables the participants to be focused in the present, helping them to integrate their physical, social, emotional, and spiritual selves.
According to a 2019 study with 351 participants, drama therapy was found to be effective in lowering depression in adults. A 2020 research also found drama therapy to be efficient in lowering blood pressure in individuals with hypertension.
Unleash the artist in you!
The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as the use of art-making to produce psychological benefits such as:
- Improves cognitive performance, self-esteem, social skills, emotional resilience, self-awareness, and relaxation.
- Provides an outlet for both verbal and non-verbal expression
- Helps to take a step away from the problem at hand
- Allows processing of difficult subconscious content
A therapist conducts various activities such as sketching, doodling, mandala art-making, painting to music, creating an emotional wheel with colors, finger drawing, making a collage of photos you like, and others. By doing the activities the participants are brought to the present and can reflect on their emotions.
ManoShala offers group wellness sessions based on creative therapies using interventions such as art, music, drama, and body movement.
Rigid social norms, conditioning, and societal expectations have made us hide some bits and pieces of ourselves, restricting our authentic expression. However, it is important to discover, nourish and celebrate those unacknowledged parts of ourselves to improve our overall well-being.
Creative art-based interventions provide many mental health benefits while helping in our need to self-express. Today, we are at a stage where psychological treatment doesn’t have to be boring. Mental health research has progressed over the years to offer tools and techniques like creative art therapies to suit different types of people. There are no one-size fits all approach anymore!
Padmapriyadarshini is an Engineer turned Business Writer passionate about mental health, psychology, and self-improvement. She has written 3 Annual reports, 40+ industry analysis reports, and 20+ blogs for various websites. Currently, she shuttles between content writing and Business Development at ManoShala - A company that offers affordable and accessible mental health solutions for everyone.