May 18, 2022
Art therapy has been used by mental health professionals for decades. Art therapy is shown to have several benefits in improving mental and physical health. There are many ways for your clients to implement art therapy into their treatment, even within telehealth sessions.
Begin by reassuring your clients that art therapy does not require them to be artists. Using art to treat mental health concerns isn’t about creating a masterpiece. It’s about your clients finding a creative outlet to continue improving the masterpiece that is their life.
What Are the Benefits of Art Therapy?
According to the peer-review journal Frontiers in Psychology, art therapy offers a “[N]on-pharmacological medical complementary and alternative therapy.” Their article on using art therapy to treat mental health disorders claims that art therapy can have several clinical effects on mental health disorders, despite a lack of clinical review.
The American Art Therapy Association (AATA), referenced by Frontiers in Psychology, describes the main functions of art therapy as “[I]mproving cognitive and sensorimotor functions, fostering self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivating emotional resilience, promoting insight, enhancing social skills, reducing and resolving conflicts and distress, and promoting societal and ecological changes.”
Implementing Art Therapy
Implementing art therapy into your sessions with clients can be done with some flexibility. The goal is to get your client talking creatively. How that’s implemented can be up to you and your client.
Many have continued to research the benefits of art therapy on mental and physical health. Some therapists will use their client’s art as a talking point and together try to interpret it. That’s primarily done in combination with talk therapy. These two methods together may help your client cope with stress and anxiety, become more self-aware, and manage any intense or even scary emotions they may be feeling.
Methods of Art Therapy You Can Implement
The simplest way to implement art therapy into sessions with your clients is by simply suggesting things for your client to try. You’ll get to know them first and may even learn that they already incorporate artistic activities into their daily lives. Upon learning more about your client’s interests, you’ll learn more about how those interests and hobbies can be integrated to effectively help them heal.
It’s important to remember that art therapy doesn’t just mean drawing or painting. Art therapy can be implemented through several art forms, including:
Painting allows clients struggling with control or wanting to be perfect to be more free and fluid with their artwork and approach to life.
Expressing complex feelings may be difficult for your client, and drawing can help them illustrate those feelings further.
Writing is another excellent form of art therapy. Creating comics or journaling can be effective in dealing with feelings. Your clients can write in combination with creating art or just stick to writing. Either way, putting thoughts and feelings down on paper can be cathartic.
Your client may also experiment with photography. In some ways, this is a great first artform to try. Clients may be hesitant to buy art supplies. They can, however, give photography a try just by taking out their phone. Learning to edit and getting into digital manipulation may take more time and commitment, but smartphone photography is a quick way for them to see if it’s a hobby worth pursuing.
Educating Your Clients
You can also begin implementing art therapy by simply educating your client. It’s natural for people to gravitate towards art as a coping mechanism. Whether people cope with work stress by doodling in a notebook or manage their struggles with mental health by journaling those feelings, humans inherently use creative methods to deal with life.
Art Therapy in an Online Space
Unfortunately, many treatment methods had to be put on pause at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, treatment facilities successfully created and implemented virtual treatment programs for their clients. Now we live in an age where telehealth is the new normal. While this is great for some clients, there are still treatment methods more difficult to implement through the online space.
One treatment method that becomes more difficult to utilize through telehealth is art therapy, but it’s far from impossible. All your clients need to have a successful art therapy session online is:
A safe and quiet space where they can be free to create
A laptop, phone, or tablet with a good internet connection
Art materials, whether they be paint, pencils, a journal, or digital editing tools
Your client will focus on using art to tell a story, and together, you’ll be able to work through whatever your client is feeling. You’ll learn more about them, their struggles, and the root of their mental health struggles while offering additional coping techniques to use in combination with art therapy. If you’re struggling with implementing art therapy with your clients in an online space, reach out to SokyaHealth today. We can help you get your clients on a path to wellness.
Many think of art therapy as a newer approach to treating mental health. However, art therapy has been used for decades to treat both mental health and physical disorders. Art therapy can help your client cope with stress better and manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and several other mental health challenges. Initially, clients may be hesitant about trying art therapy. In that case, it’s essential to reassure them that art therapy is not about being an artist. It’s about telling a story, which can be hard to do when discussing complex feelings. Art therapy is often effective in combination with other treatments like psychotherapy or holistic practices. Art therapy can also be implemented through telehealth services. All your client needs is a quiet space, internet connection, and an artistic medium of choice. If you struggle to implement art therapy into your treatment sessions, call SokyaHealth today at (877) 840-6956.