What Makes Art Therapy?

Use this forum to have philosophical discussions about aesthetics and art. What is art? What is beauty? What makes art good? You can also use this forum to discuss philosophy in the arts, namely to discuss the philosophical points in any particular movie, TV show, book or story.
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JackDaydream
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What Makes Art Therapy?

Post by JackDaydream »

This thread is intended for any who are interested in the therapeutic value of visual art, music and all other forms of artistic expression. It can also be asked, can writing about philosophy be therapeutic?

My own angle is that art and English were always my favourite subjects at school, as a means of expression. I do continue to make art as an adult and many don't do any art beyond adolescence. I did begin art therapy training, and, unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, did not finish the course. Art therapy is a profession, but therapeutic use of art can be experienced by all. It can be done alone, in a group, or in the presence of a facilitator or therapist.

One of the biggest difficulties which I find in participation in art therapy activities is that I do still care about the quality of the art which I am making. This goes beyond the process of artistic expression, and it is complex, because art is about aesthetics. Also, use of the arts can be about enjoying others' creative work. For example, I don't make music but find listening to music to be essential in my emotional life. What role do you feel that the arts have in your emotional life? Does art have transformational power?
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Pattern-chaser
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

Post by Pattern-chaser »

JackDaydream wrote: September 21st, 2022, 8:21 am This thread is intended for any who are interested in the therapeutic value of visual art, music and all other forms of artistic expression. It can also be asked, can writing about philosophy be therapeutic?
Almost anything can or could be therapeutic, depending on the needs of the person receiving the therapy, and their reasons for needing that therapy. So I'm sure that writing about philosophy could be appropriate — in extreme cases only, of course. 😉 Perhaps the practice of science, or mathematics, could be therapeutic too? (Almost) anything is possible.

More interesting to me: is therapy beneficial or valuable? In what way? Is it necessary, or might we be better off without it? And, in the vein of your OP, how might art or music achieve a therapeutic end?
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: September 21st, 2022, 9:05 am
JackDaydream wrote: September 21st, 2022, 8:21 am This thread is intended for any who are interested in the therapeutic value of visual art, music and all other forms of artistic expression. It can also be asked, can writing about philosophy be therapeutic?
Almost anything can or could be therapeutic, depending on the needs of the person receiving the therapy, and their reasons for needing that therapy. So I'm sure that writing about philosophy could be appropriate — in extreme cases only, of course. 😉 Perhaps the practice of science, or mathematics, could be therapeutic too? (Almost) anything is possible.

More interesting to me: is therapy beneficial or valuable? In what way? Is it necessary, or might we be better off without it? And, in the vein of your OP, how might art or music achieve a therapeutic end?
It is true that many hobbies or interests can be a form of therapy. Some find being with animals to be therapeutic emotionally and I have read of a correlation between having a pet and some aspects of physical health and wellbeing. Some of it may come down to enjoyment, which is variable and, in this respect, science may be therapeutic. I think that I find Maths to be antitherapeutic. From about the age of 10 I dreaded Maths periods, especially when on Thursdays I had double Maths in the morning and sports all afternoon. Sports often give people a form of release but I am not interested in sports, playing them or even watching them.

As for the specifics of art therapy, there are various models. The one which I was being trained in was art psychotherapy. It was based on the psychodynamic approach and theory. Apart from the art making the relationship between the client and therapist was considered as being extremely important. This was based on the idea of the transference, in which the the essential relationship between a child and parent is considered as important. The relationship between the therapist and client is seen as a working space to work with in therapy. It is believed to involve basic processing of experience, even at a biochemistry level potentially. In art therapy, the use of images is also seen as important in expressing aspects of emotional experiences which may be difficult to articulate through words.

The question of whether art therapy or psychotherapy works is extremely important. One belied which some people have is that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. I do wonder about this though, because what if they simply get worse and don't get better? Part of the difficulty with assessing how therapy works is the difficulty of finding clear evidence quantitatively. There is qualitative evidence based on personal testimony. There may be growing aspects of quantitative and qualitative research because when I was training it was considered an important area for development in relation to whether art therapy works, based on evidence based research.

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LuckyR
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

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What we find important is typically the source of stress when they go wrong, or might go wrong. So things that aren't relatively important can play the distraction role.
"As usual... it depends."
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

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LuckyR wrote: September 21st, 2022, 2:47 pm What we find important is typically the source of stress when they go wrong, or might go wrong. So things that aren't relatively important can play the distraction role.
It can be a matter of juggling and I definitely have a lot of things going completely upside down. That is probably why I have such a wide range of music, because I have searched for it as an antidote. I can remember one time, after a difficult meeting walking around HMV music and the man working there asked me why I was walking round and round. Eventually, I found a disc to buy and some of my favourite music was found to ease stress and it has worked as a coping mechanism.

The other side to this is whether stress and distress can be a doorway to creativity. I find that if I am too stressed it often depletes me of creativity. For example, if I try to make art in my room and have too many worries it often just doesn't seem to come out as I would like it to. However, sometimes, on a longer basis I find that forms of suffering can lead to creativity, as if the experience and, the journey through it, facilitates a new, or deeper, level of perception.
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chewybrian
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

Post by chewybrian »

JackDaydream wrote: September 21st, 2022, 3:02 pm
LuckyR wrote: September 21st, 2022, 2:47 pm What we find important is typically the source of stress when they go wrong, or might go wrong. So things that aren't relatively important can play the distraction role.
It can be a matter of juggling and I definitely have a lot of things going completely upside down. That is probably why I have such a wide range of music, because I have searched for it as an antidote. I can remember one time, after a difficult meeting walking around HMV music and the man working there asked me why I was walking round and round. Eventually, I found a disc to buy and some of my favourite music was found to ease stress and it has worked as a coping mechanism.

The other side to this is whether stress and distress can be a doorway to creativity. I find that if I am too stressed it often depletes me of creativity. For example, if I try to make art in my room and have too many worries it often just doesn't seem to come out as I would like it to. However, sometimes, on a longer basis I find that forms of suffering can lead to creativity, as if the experience and, the journey through it, facilitates a new, or deeper, level of perception.
I relate to what you said here. I enjoy writing or painting for fun, but not if I am tired or very stressed. I think art is therapeutic in relation to everyday stress. It isn't going to help against ptsd or relieve the tension when bombs are falling on your position! However, it helps you get past the urge to retreat from yourself in unhealthy ways in response to everyday existential anxiety. This guy expressed the idea well in his books, and here is a decent short version:
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

Post by JackDaydream »

chewybrian wrote: September 21st, 2022, 4:14 pm
JackDaydream wrote: September 21st, 2022, 3:02 pm
LuckyR wrote: September 21st, 2022, 2:47 pm What we find important is typically the source of stress when they go wrong, or might go wrong. So things that aren't relatively important can play the distraction role.
It can be a matter of juggling and I definitely have a lot of things going completely upside down. That is probably why I have such a wide range of music, because I have searched for it as an antidote. I can remember one time, after a difficult meeting walking around HMV music and the man working there asked me why I was walking round and round. Eventually, I found a disc to buy and some of my favourite music was found to ease stress and it has worked as a coping mechanism.

The other side to this is whether stress and distress can be a doorway to creativity. I find that if I am too stressed it often depletes me of creativity. For example, if I try to make art in my room and have too many worries it often just doesn't seem to come out as I would like it to. However, sometimes, on a longer basis I find that forms of suffering can lead to creativity, as if the experience and, the journey through it, facilitates a new, or deeper, level of perception.
I relate to what you said here. I enjoy writing or painting for fun, but not if I am tired or very stressed. I think art is therapeutic in relation to everyday stress. It isn't going to help against ptsd or relieve the tension when bombs are falling on your position! However, it helps you get past the urge to retreat from yourself in unhealthy ways in response to everyday existential anxiety. This guy expressed the idea well in his books, and here is a decent short version:
Thanks for your reply, and I did read a book by Rollo May at one point. Getting to the state of mind to make art and do writing can be difficult. Funnily enough, even if I am anxious I still write on this site, but this kind of writing may be different from some other kinds of writing because it is about rational thinking. With visual art, I often feel as if my perception itself is affected by stress. I even found it hard to have to make art in exam conditions for this right. Some people seem to do better in exam conditions than others. I also struggle to focus if I am feeling low in mood.

On the art therapy course which I was doing there were a lot of experimental workshops and I can remember people being very emotionally dramatic in expressing sadness and anger, shouting, crying or throwing paint around. I used to prefer working in a corner quietly and showing art at the end and looking at those of other people. I do like doing art in groups and used to run creative art groups regularly in my job in my nursing job.

When running the groups I did find that some very stressed patients who were on an acute admissions ward used to come and see the group as an outlet for ventilating their emotions, and talking about their life experiences. I was not working as a therapist, but was influenced by art therapy, but also saw the group as a chance for people to enjoy themselves, especially as I used to do it on Sunday afternoons.

In regard to your mention of PTSD, I have known people who have spent time in art therapy for this and found it to be extremely helpful. Also, while I have never worked with children, art therapy is often an option for children who have emotional difficulties, including those who have been through traumatic experiences. The role of the therapist is probably very important here, which makes being a therapist a fairly hard role, because it often involves working with painful emotions.



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Roby112
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

Post by Roby112 »

Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media. Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, originated in the fields of art and psychotherapy and may vary in definition. There are three main ways that art therapy is employed. If you want to enjoy Art services And many other services you can visit.
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JackDaydream
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Re: What Makes Art Therapy?

Post by JackDaydream »

Roby112 wrote: September 22nd, 2022, 3:14 am Art therapy is a distinct discipline that incorporates creative methods of expression through visual art media. Art therapy, as a creative arts therapy profession, originated in the fields of art and psychotherapy and may vary in definition. There are three main ways that art therapy is employed. If you want to enjoy Art services And many other services you can visit.
It is definitely important to remember that art therapy is a discipline and a clinical practice. People who call themselves art therapists but who are not qualified and registered can be in trouble just as those who call themselves doctors. That is why when I have run groups I have never called them art therapy but creative art groups. I have come across people don't understand the distinction, especially as the phrase art therapy is used so casually, such as when so many colouring books are called art therapy. The history of art therapy comes from various strands including art in mental health care. Work made in hospitals, and the Outsider, or folk art, were important. Altogether, it developed from various disciplines, including psychotherapy and people from art backgrounds, who trained and established practice.
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