Art therapy: what are the benefits?

To heal or protect your soul, various life saving tools are available in our range. And if sometimes so-called “classic” therapy can be daunting, there are less intimidating variants that can help us take the first steps toward self-care.

Among them, art therapy,”a form of psychotherapy in which artistic production – whether self-created or observed – serves as the primary medium of communication”, explains Margaux Sardin, art therapist.

But specialists argue that support through this creation is hard to box in, as it is protean.

“There are many currents and approaches in art therapy. Some will be psychoanalytic, others integrative, psychotherapeutic, focused on expression… Be careful, we are not psychotherapistsbut we offer a form of psychotherapy,” he added.

Art therapy yes, but for whom?

And contrary to what one might think, it is not necessary to have artistic knowledge or skills to benefit from art therapy. According to specialists, it is intended for everyone, young and old, experienced and beginners.

“Already, for me, creativity is not just art, nuanced by Margaux Sardin. Likewise, if the person I accept is very comfortable in a particular art, I will not use it, because they risk getting too in control, when the purpose of the practice is letting go.”

To do this, specialists list four currents in arts therapy: visual arts, drama (theater) therapy, dance therapy, and music therapy. “Everything can be combined and rejected (writing, sculpture, collage, drawing, dolls…)”, quotes the art therapist. “But it is always psycho-corporalYou are constantly making your body move,” he warns.

Likewise, the reasons a person might want to consult an art therapy specialist are just as numerous. “This is generally the same request as in the context of traditional therapy (pathology, crisis moments such as death, dismissal, divorce or because you want to better tame your emotions…), but you can also come wanting to experiment. ”, explained Margaux Sardin.

Therefore, Art therapy can be practiced individually or in groups. “Unity can be a carrier, we give each other ideas, we are inspired and we have a plural understanding of our feelings” he continued.

Managing emotions, reducing stress: the many benefits of art therapy

The release of our creativity that will support the release of emotions that are sometimes buried. “The very fact of creating reduces stress and therefore produces a feeling of well-being,” supports the art therapist.

Indeed, several studies, including one published in the journal Border in 2014, showed that Dopamine levels increase in people in the midst of a creative process.

“Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is often low in patients with anxiety, depression and excessive stress. Art therapy has been found to help increase these dopamine levels and help patients feel happier,” reads the publication from the Sage Neuroscience Center.

To create something means to distance yourself from a situation or emotion and entrust them to an art therapist. We don’t have to put it into words, but we will represent things, realistically or not,” agreed Margaux Sardin.

However, the expert emphasized that he never interpreted. And these are the nuances between art therapists and psychologists who use artistic professions. “I help the patient to express himself through his graphic vocabulary, which I learn bit by bit. I will help the person put his feelings into words to get away from them.”

Sometimes through sublimation an event that disturbs us (because it is unspoken or muddled in our minds), thus takes a different and controlled form.

“It’s not the goal to make it beautiful, but sometimes it does. We need to surround ourselves with beautiful things and understand that we can be the source of them. With speech, we heavily censor ourselves, but the moment we create, this barrier is no longer there“, supporting art therapists.

The importance of support

But while dozens of art therapy-stamped books or practical notebooks have been in abundance for several years, what support should take priority?

Margaux Sardin preaches for serious art therapists. “That is an unprotected title, and that is a big problem. This is why it’s important to know how to choose your therapist. I recommend taking a look at the training being conducted, especially one recognized by the RNCP (national directory of professional certifications)”.

Because serious training guarantees a therapeutic framework, he emphasizes. “There never was judgment or interpretation. We’re leavinggather intense emotions while respecting professional confidentiality and differentiate psychological or psycho-pathological problems by being able to connect with other healthcare professionals. As professionals, we also validate personal experiences from the creative process and additional therapy,” he lists.

In closing, Margaux Sardin cites Waller and Woddis, two researchers who started the first research on art therapy. “Art therapists provide environment, artistic mediation, but above all, themselves, their time, their concerns and clear relationships”, he continued.

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