Why Art Therapy, Coloring Books & Creating Stuff Reduces Stress
“The idea is that we engage mind, body, and spirit,” says Dr. Strang, of formal art therapy. “It goes beyond verbalization, beyond just talking about people and things, so people engage in a different way to meet treatment goals.” Art therapy is about using creativity and art-making to help people understand themselves, find a voice, and “communicate things for which there are no words,” she says. It’s distinct from using art
therapeutically, because art therapists are looking to meet very specific treatment goals in relation to issues such as addiction,
eating disorders, depression, and
anxiety. “You can use art therapeutically for yourself, but the principles of
art therapy are specifically about the therapeutic relationship and working with an art therapist.” In some states, there’s
legislation in place limiting the practice of art therapy to people who are credentialed art therapists. During appointments, art therapists work with patients on a series of art assessments which are “not where we sit down and analyze someone’s artwork,” Dr. Strang says, but rather, where they “have someone do artwork, talk to them, work with it, and use that to establish their treatment goal.”