Art therapy is explored as a way to unite creativity and forms of artistic expression to reach a profound knowledge of the being.
Medical Advisor: Luces Montoya- Industrial Designer, Master in Psychodynamic Art Therapy
In book shops it is now common to come across shelves of coloring books aimed at an adult audience. These, full of mandalas, nature or landscapes outlined in black on white paper, promise their users to reduce stress and take them out of their routine. Some studies, such as the study developed by Psychology Professors Judy Eaton and Christine Tiber, from Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, have shown that coloring has positive results on decreasing stress and anxiety, converting it into an economic and accessible method that does not require special skills and that contributes to self-care.
However, the favorable effects of these books can be confused at times with more profound healing therapies such as art therapy. Industrial Designer Luces Montoya, Master in Psychodynamic Art Therapy, explains that this type of treatment covers an introspection into the individual “in art therapy, what we seek is that the person, for example, makes their own mandala. Coloring books have a mechanical attitude where people can relax and calm down, but creativity is limited. In art therapy, creativity is very important, because instead of avoiding or disconnecting, we try to investigate and inspect inside the being. Coloring relaxes but does not go deeper into the being”, she comments.
What is art therapy?
Psychodynamic art therapy has its theoretical basis in psychoanalysis and makes it possible for patients to express through words and different artistic materials an internal world that is often restricted by speech. “Images reveal interior matters that people and, one as a psychotherapist, sometimes have not yet deciphered”, indicates Luces Montoya.
The specialist emphasizes that in this process what is important is not the product as such, but what happens on the way “obsessing over the esthetic result causes anxiety. Participants must draw, paint, make collages, knead clay, mold with modeling clay, work with recycling materials and make things whilst they speak about their problems, but esthetic goals are not sought. Every person is free to experiment with different instruments and this creates new neuronal connections that revitalize the brain and contribute to creativity”.
Many people resort to art therapy to handle their emotions, as treatment for addictions, depression or pain, amongst other situations. Techniques, therapeutic guide and elements used contribute to their improvement. In addition, the final creative work and method in which each person interacts communicates their deeper aspects to the psychotherapist.
For example, if someone scribbles with a lot of force, this can indicate contained rage, or if they work repeatedly with a material, depending on the case, this shows evidence of fear to undertake challenges or tendency towards control. “On occasions patients say one thing, but the work can represent otherwise. Therefore, creative work helps them to recognize themselves”, specifies Luces Montoya •
Shaping your inner self
- Journaling is a practice to create a log of each day that allows for events to be recorded with images and words.
- Writing is a practice that, if done with therapeutic objectives, helps to translate the unconscious.
- Meditation in movement, through activities such as practicing yoga or climbing, and even weaving, helps to focus attention.
- Coloring and art therapy develop different aspects. Whilst the first seeks to calm and dissipate stress, the second implies an exploration into the interior of each person through art.
Benefits of art therapy
- Improves communication with oneself and others.
- Reduces levels of anxiety and stress.
- Promotes creative power.
- Establishes new neuronal connections.
- Increases the capacity to make decisions and focus.
- Develops the ability to be spontaneous.
- Increases trust and confidence in oneself.
- Extends the ability to resolve problems.
- Stimulates the search for harmony and balance in life.
- Promotes a profound knowledge of oneself and one’s emotions.