Art healing is a term that is applied to any art form used in healing and is a relatively new concept in western society. Only in the last 20 years have doctors, therapists, and other medical types begun to acknowledge and study the therapeutic effects of creativity and art-creation upon the physical, emotional, and mental well being of individuals.
According to Cathy Malchiodi, in her book “The Art Therapy Source-book”, art therapy is “…based on the idea that the creative process of art-making is healing and life enhancing, and that it is a potent form of communication. It utilizes the creative process… to promote growth, self-expression, emotional reparation, conflict resolution and transformation.”
Art healing is a hands-on, self-help approach to overcoming obstacles in one’s life. It’s not enough to read articles or books on art healing, you must participate in the creative process for it to be beneficial.
And while artists in general tend to focus on the visual aspects of artwork, art healing is focused is on feelings and thoughts.
According to Malchiodi, art healing is beneficial in several ways:
o Visually dealing with traumatic emotions can feel safer then dealing with them in words.
o It lets us express things we cannot express in words.
o Its helpful in releasing emotions.
o It is a powerful therapeutic process that has meaning and comes directly from our own feelings and imagination.
o It allows us to get to know ourselves.
o It is available to everyone.
o It enhances our lives and reduces stress.
Anyone can use art, from crayons and construction paper to acrylics and oils, to move themselves beyond pain and stress. Art healing has been used by many cultures for centuries (although not called art healing) to keep individuals and communities centered and in touch with themselves.