Indian mental health professionals are increasingly turning to art workshops as a way to treat depression and other mental illnesses. Art-based therapies have been around for millennia, but only recently has the field of mental health taken notice. Here are 10 of the most popular reasons why art therapy is more beneficial than traditional talk therapy in India:
1. It's a more effective option for introverts: Talking about your feelings can be intimidating and challenging—especially if you are an introvert. This is especially true in a therapist's office, where there is one-on-one contact with a stranger. Plus, talk therapy relies heavily on what the patient says and their willingness to open up and share.
When it comes to art therapy, however, introverts can take the lead. The focus is not on what they're saying, but rather on their efforts to express themselves through visual means.
2. It makes use of visual methods to heal mental illnesses: The human mind retains information better when it's presented in multiple forms or channels – words, images, sounds and so on. Similarly, when we picture or draw something in our imagination, the brain releases chemicals that allow us to feel relief and rejuvenation.
If we picture the past, for example, it may help us cope with the death of a loved one or reminisce about times gone by. If we imagine what's going to happen in the future, it can enhance our stress relief.
3. Art therapy is more fun: Sometimes even good old talk therapy sessions can be boring and repetitive and make you wonder just how much your issues are being addressed. Instead of everyday life experiences, art therapy makes use of different mediums like music, movement and visual arts to communicate deeper meanings that are far more meaningful than words alone.
Moreover, in a similar way to how music relaxes you, art therapy allows you to relax your mind and body through the process of expressing yourself. By reducing your thoughts, it allows you to focus on other ideas and feelings that may be stuck in the recesses of your head.
4. It's an affordable option: Art therapy can even be done at home or remotely through a webcam. It doesn't matter where you live if you have crucial issues like stress or anxiety that need attention; all that matters is the quality of art therapy sessions you opt for. It's also considerably cheaper than traditional talk therapy, which can go upto 4000 INR per session!
5. It helps you cope with mental illness: When it comes to mental health issues, art therapy is definitely the lesser evil. It's beneficial because art therapy gives you a chance to express yourself at ease and with no inhibitions. You can experiment with diverse mediums such as water colours, oils or even digital media like Photoshop or Paint.net
Art therapists themselves have an assortment of different models that they can use depending on your needs as well as what your particular personality is. After all, every person is unique and your art therapy provider will be able to identify the right approach that you can use.
6. It doesn't rely on explanations (or any treatment plans): As mentioned above, in traditional talk therapy sessions, a patient's words can be potentially detrimental; they may make the therapist feel uncomfortable. Art therapy doesn't involve talking – it's done with paint or pencils but it's essentially an expression of feelings towards a topic of your choice. If you don't know how to start drawing something, you can simply say so!
7. It's the proactive method for mental health: Mostly we've seen people go for a talk therapy when their mental health has reached rock bottom. Very often, we see people going for therapy session after something extreme happens. But with art therapy, you're not required to drop everything and resort to a talk therapy session; this is why it's so much more effective.
In fact, art therapy sessions deal with the causes of issues rather than the effects. This way, you don't have to wait for bad things to happen before doing something about them. You can do something proactively that can help you cope with mental illness symptoms altogether!
8. It takes into account personality: Art therapy works on different levels of self-expression, so it allows an individual to find their motivation, heal from distress and develop better coping strategies. By expressing ourselves more openly through our hobbies, it helps us feel happier and more at peace with the world around us – both physically and emotionally.
9. It's not just for children or just for adults: Art therapists can help people of all ages address problems, including adults and even seniors. They are trained to work with patients of all ages and ensure that the process gives them an outlet to process the feelings, relationships and situations they're dealing with. Whereas in talk therapy, children may feel awkward or shy about discussing their feelings. Art therapy allows them to express themselves in a fun way, which is a great opportunity for them to open up and talk about their fears, worries and concerns.
10. There are several ways of doing art therapy: Just because art therapy is meant primarily for self-expression doesn't mean that the therapist will let you do whatever you want. You will be given different prompts that can help you explore your emotions, find your purpose in life and even indulge in some fun hobbies to relax your mind and body.
For example, during an art therapy session, the therapist will guide you as he or she watches you draw on a sketchpad or canvas board. He or she will then ask you questions about what you've done; which prompts you to pursue your own creativity and express yourself.
In the end, art therapy can help an individual develop a deeper understanding of his or her personality and emotions. It's a powerful coping mechanism to help people express themselves in positive ways, overcome challenges and even develop new hobbies that can relax their mind and body.
And while you may not be able to connect your art to your health issues directly, you can still benefit from the sense of freedom it brings. Your unique style of self-expression through art is something that will always be associated with you, no matter what happens in your life!
Art therapy is a great way for you to focus on your emotions by letting go of stress or expressing what you're feeling about yourself or the world.
Written by Harshita Sevaldasani