How Art Can Improve Your Life

Posted by: Lyra Pappin

Can art be used as a method of therapy? Many people believe that expressing creativity through artistic pursuits can lead to a greater understanding of oneself as well as reducing stress and improving emotional stability.

Although many people use art as a therapeutic tool for personal and private fulfillment, many in the psychological community believe that structured art therapy is a great way to improve people suffering from a wide array of psychological problems.  Children are also found to benefit greatly from artistic pursuits as they are naturally creative and expressive, and may not be able to express themselves as completely with their limited verbal abilities.

Art Therapy as a profession began in the late 1940s, although art forms themselves have existed since the dawn of humankind.  People naturally use creative pursuits such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and photography as means for relaxation and connecting to a deeper self.  Psychologists and psychiatrists elaborate on this natural tendency by encouraging patients to delve into their psyche and express their inner feelings.  From this point, those engaged in formal art therapy will also have their therapists look for metaphors and patterns in their artwork, which may lead to a breakthrough thereby allowing patients to move their lives in a positive and forward direction.

Although Art Therapy has proven to be very successful combining psychotherapy and self-exploration with the goal of achieving a greater well-being, it is a worthwhile individual pursuit as well.  Because art therapy is built on the principle that creative outlets are essential windows into our psychological framework, happiness, and inner selves, it is interesting to note engaging in creative endeavours could be just as important to our health as daily exercise.

Stress is a constant factor in everyone’s lives and we are inundated with different ways to relieve stress, to be connected to our loved ones, and to take care of ourselves.  However, most tasks are easier said than done.  While it may seem frivolous if you aren’t naturally inclined towards art, it is undoubtedly a simple and inexpensive method to center yourself and find some calm and peace. 

The Canadian Art Therapy Association notes that it is often difficult to express exactly how we are feeling in words alone.  As earlier noted, children have this problem, but it is certainly not exclusively their own.  Especially when faced with something traumatic or painful, it is hard for adults to open up and trust others, so an individual outlet like painting or sculpting can be a much more rewarding and fully expressive means of communicating feelings. 

It often takes a major disruptive event to occur before people begin to take note of the importance of their emotional health.  Daily commitment to artistic expression can be a first step in avoiding falling into an unhappy or disconnected state.  Many people are so busy and preoccupied in their day-to-day lives that they fail to notice themselves drifting farther and farther away from whom they are inside.  By taking a few moments daily, or weekly, to draw a little sketch or play around with watercolours, you could be doing yourself a world of good.  Whether you had a passion for art that is now being rediscovered, or you never considered yourself remotely artistic, you will be surprised at the pleasure derived from simply creating.

On the other hand, if things aren’t going your way and you get frustrated, this is certainly not the goal!  If you feel intimidated, or suspicious of your artistic talent, try looking for a local art program that offers beginners classes in whatever form you prefer.  Many groups meet weekly and focus on the basics, which are great way to get started.

If you have recently been through a trying time and find yourself frustrated with traditional therapy, or aren’t getting enough support from friends and family, you can ask your family doctor about practicing art therapists in your area.

Do yourself a favour and try creating something new today.  Reflect on your current moods and feelings and see what comes out. Perhaps you will discover something new that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.  Hopefully the process of being creative will have a positive affect on your mood and you will keep up your new hobby! 

For more information on Art Therapy, visit the American Art Therapy Association and the Canadian Art Therapy Association.


Photo Courtesy of Christopher Gentile.

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Oct 11, 2010 | Posted by: Canvas Prints

I love art,i agree with your information.thanks for sharing


Submitted by:

Lyra Pappin
Toronto, ON, Canada

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