Creating artwork allows your mind to be in a safe place while it contemplates the tougher issues you are dealing with. One can use the tools of brush, paint, pastels, crayons etc to expose and even for a short time colour those issues in a different light.” ― George E. Miller

Historically visual art has been used to make sense or express a difficult situation or circumstance. As there have been many talented artists throughout time and healing turned unfathomable human suffering into amazing works of art. For example:

Vincent van Gogh-portrait of Dr.Gachet.(1890)  (Van Gogh was plagued by psychiatric illness throughout his life)

Pablo Picasso – Melancholy Woman (1902) (Picasso created this piece while grieving after the suicide of one of his closest friends)

Art therapy is a new revolutionary form of psychotherapy that focuses on artmaking and the creative process as a foundation to explore complex thoughts, feelings and emotions.

In 1958 Edith Kramer pioneered the concept of art therapy, she was one of the first to champion the healing quality that artistic expression has within a therapy-based setting. Her psychoanalytic theory and method of practise informed a well-founded scientific appreciation of the unique role expressive art has as an therapeutic intervention .As there is now an influx of promising evidence based empirical data which suggests that art therapy has an extremely high success rate in alleviating symptoms of mental health disorders in children.

Malchiodi et al (2014) theorised that the high degree of responsiveness and positive outcome data within this demographic is due to art therapy’s non-verbal experience-orientated and sensory based nature. According to Malchiodi et al (2014), many children lack the mental maturity/capacity to acknowledge the need for help or accurately portray the trauma they have experienced. Art therapy however bypasses this shortcoming as it provides a safe supporting environment in which children can easily articulate difficult thoughts, sensations, emotions using different art materials to create pictures and stories. It facilitates therapeutic healing as the artwork produced during therapy naturally correlates to a child’s underlying thoughts and feelings ,which in essence provides practitioners a window into the subconscious of their patients leading to a more comprehensive and sound understanding of a child’s mental condition .This is beneficial because it can sequentially help inform the implementation of more patient specific coping mechanism to aid psychosocial development and better improve mental health.

Mental health practitioners are slowly beginning to see art therapy as a more attractive option of treatment for children and young adults. As it celebrates independence and incorporates core aspects of person focused therapy by providing children with a safe and fun outlet for authentic self- expression, which in turn allows them to be seen, heard, and understood.

Article By Emmanuel Ojo
Sponsored by V2Recovery Ltd

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