In today's busy and increasingly stressful world, finding effective ways to achieve holistic healing and wellness is more important than ever. Many people handle the stress of life via traditional methods like counseling and medication; these have their place, but there is a growing acknowledgment of the profound and positive impact that art therapy can have on our mental, emotional, and even physical well-being. Art therapy offers a unique and creative pathway to self-discovery, healing, and personal growth. The transformative power of art therapy can bring about holistic wellness.
WHAT IS ART THERAPY?
The therapeutic nature of art has been noted for years. In fact, research studies have shown that art encourages creative thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as helping to relieve stress and anxiety. “One small past study of 39 participants found that just 45 minutes of art-making (including using collage materials, modeling clay, or markers) reduced cortisol levels (a stress hormone) in 75 percent of people,” according to information in “6 Potential Health Benefits of Art Therapy” from Everyday Health. Because art has been proven to be so positively impactful in people’s lives, an entire professional discipline has developed to help people use art as therapy.
Defining Art Therapy
According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA), “Art Therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.”
BENEFITS OF ART THERAPY
There are so many benefits of art therapy. First of all, art therapy provides a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express themselves freely through various artistic mediums. It allows them to channel their emotions, thoughts, and experiences in ways that words alone may not capture.
Engaging in the creative process of art-making has been found to promote emotional healing. Art therapy helps individuals explore and process difficult emotions such as grief, trauma, anxiety, or depression. By externalizing these emotions through art, individuals can gain distance that enables them to examine and work through their emotions more effectively.
Art therapy also encourages mindfulness and relaxation, inspiring people to be present in the moment and focus their attention on the creative process. It helps reduce stress and promote relaxation in a way that is grounding and fosters a sense of calmness and tranquility.
Holistic healing and wellness involve the integration of mind, body, and spirit; and art therapy recognizes this interconnectedness. Through the creative process during art therapy, individuals engage in a holistic approach to their healing, so they can find balance within themselves. By unlocking self-expression, promoting emotional healing, cultivating mindfulness, and integrating mind, body, and spirit, art therapy provides a powerful tool for achieving holistic wellness. Whether you're an artist or a novice, the creative process in art therapy can open doors to new possibilities and a deeper connection with oneself.
ART THERAPY FOR THE HOMELESS
Art therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on homeless and transient populations, offering a beacon of hope and support amidst their challenging circumstances. Engaging in art therapy provides an opportunity for self-expression and empowerment for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness. It often helps homeless individuals develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their experiences while providing opportunities for social connection. Art therapy has the potential to not only address emotional and psychological well-being but also to provide a channel for creative skills development, potentially leading to increased self-sufficiency and future employment opportunities.
Art From the Streets (AFTS) serves homeless and at-risk people in the Austin, Texas area and is excited to introduce Art Therapy for its artists this summer! The introduction of an Art Therapy program shows a commitment to holistic healing and wellness by way of incorporating art as a therapeutic tool. Christina Calderon, a licensed Art Therapist who has undergone specialized training and education in both art and psychology, is spearheading this program for AFTS. “My approach to psychotherapy is holistic, intuitive, and integrative. I specialize in art therapy and other expressive therapies encouraging self-exploration through artistic processes such as drawing, painting, writing, and body movement,” she states. This initiative has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of many of the unhoused; it is another opportunity for them to benefit from the healing power of art.
Art From the Streets is an Austin-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 1991 to give transient people a way to develop as artists and use their creativity to climb out of homelessness. Purchasing artwork supports the artists directly. Donating to our program helps us to offer a free Open Studio for the homeless and at-risk.