Disclaimer: I am NOT a therapist nor do I have enough knowledge to speak of it properly, I have simply written a little about the concept of art therapies. If you need help or are interested in doing any of these therapies, please find a professional.
Art therapies are a set of therapeutic interventions that use artistic disciplines (music, dance, painting …) to help and heal people in need. The BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists) defines art therapy as “a form of psychotherapy that uses the artistic medium as its primary form of communication.”
In addition, it is not only beneficial in people with psychological disorders; It can also be used as a tool for personal development and self-knowledge. The fact is that all human beings have the ability to be creative.*
*This does not imply that anyone can be professionally creative without training, there is a series of specific knowledge and experience necessary for this. But if the goal is personal expression or fun, anyone can pick up a brush and start creating.
Some of the benefits of creating something with your own hands are:
- Improves self-esteem: we prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing it.
- Reduces stress: By focusing on a creative task, we put the things that stress us in the background and focus on what is in front of us.
- It helps us to know ourselves better: artistic expression can be a way of reflecting ideas or emotions that we do not know how to put in words, it can help us overcome blockages.
- It helps us express ourselves without the need to verbalize what is happening to us.
- It can be a challenge (in a good way): learning a new skill is exciting, it can give us energy and make us feel excited.
- It can help us grow as a person.
While I was learning about this type of therapy, I realized that it puts the emphasis on some parts of creative work that people who want to professionalize in this sector tend to forget.
An example: it gives the same value on the creative process as on the final result. I myself tend to stress when I have an illustration half done because I want to see the final result; and if after several hours working I don’t like what I see I feel bad, as if I had wasted my time. That is not entirely the case, since those hours that I have dedicated to practice on the one hand I could have enjoyed more and on the other they have served me as learning and practice.
Much of my work as an illustrator does not consist of drawing, I spend a lot of time updating the online store, writing for the blog and social media, looking for clients, updating the portfolio, doing numbers and paperwork, preparing packages and going to the post office, organizing the calendar… From my brief research on the mental health benefits of creativity, I will remember the importance of having a space to draw for pleasure and with the idea that creativity is beneficial for all people.