Art Can Heal - American Medical Centers (Lviv)

Art Can Heal

Young and old, we can all benefit from Art Therapy

You don’t need extraordinary artistic talents to make a difference in someone’ life (or your own). The technique of healing through art is particularly effective as it comes right from the heart, spontaneously and imaginatively, yielding incredible results. But what kind of technique is it and why is it so beneficial?

The essence of the method

Psychologists unanimously agree that spontaneous creative expression, whether pictorial or not, has a strong therapeutic effect (psychological and emotional), and helps one relax.

Indeed, historically, various art techniques were used to relieve physical and mental pain. Nowadays this method is called art therapy and is considered to be one of the mildest, but profound psychotherapeutic methods, which does not require specialized medical assistance.

Art therapy is used to combat stress, depression, phobias, dissatisfaction with yourself and your life. It may be utilized in case of unmotivated aggression or psychological trauma and is often used for and with children and expecting mothers.

All art or creative expression may serve: painting, sculpture, music, dance and oral creativity (story-telling for kids or writing poetry). Art therapy helps us unfold our inner selves – all the intuition and instincts that may hide deep within our psyches.

Guidelines for application

Painting and drawing. Painting or drawing helps to relax, concentrate, and relieve stress. You can draw with crayons or paint using brushes and pieces of foam or cloth soaked in paint, and even using your fingers! The main thing is to take a journey through your inner world and set your imagination free. This way you will surely create a true masterpiece. Sit comfortably, relax and focus on your current emotions: what are they? What are you feeling? What do these emotions look like? What color and shape do they have? Now, take a brush or crayons and try to visualize your emotions on paper. Let your hand freely create the lines; do not try to make the picture perfect! Once the piece is ready, focus on your feelings: have they changed? If the picture seems sad, take another sheet of paper and visualize your happiness. From now on, every time you look at the image of your happiness, you will feel it.

Sculpting. Sculpting is also a very important, pleasant and beneficial activity. You can sculpt in clay, salt dough and play dough. For example, clay balances our human biofield and in fact in some cultures is used to treat various diseases. While creating a sculpture, your nerve endings, located at the fingertips and responsible for certain parts of the brain, are activated, fatigue, aggression, tension and even headache are relieved! To rid fear, psychologists suggest sculpting and burying your fear in the clay. It is also possible (and even beneficial) to sculpt with your eyes closed – just feel your mood and sculpt it. After you finish the piece of sculpture, dry it and then adorn it with patterns using acrylic or gouache paint.

Feeling the music. Everything has a certain rhythm. Music therapy helps us «listen» to our inner world. How can we do it? Sing (even if you are convinced that you don’t have a good sense of pitch or a strong voice)! It is also useful to listen to classical music: its benefits for the body have long been proven. Even in ancient Rome, physicians used playing musical instruments as a sort of treatment, since they knew that each organ has its own rhythm and tone. Moreover, they believed, and many do today, that each organ likes different instruments: for instance, the heart prefers the guitar, the liver, the flute, and the spine, the drum. Combining music with visual arts also gives interesting results.

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