Several aspects of art therapy make it a helpful adjunct therapy:
* One of the basic principles of art therapy is that people can feel better mentally and emotionally via artistic expression. Art therapy provides emotional relief by encouraging the expression of feelings and concerns.
* Art therapy provides a means of expression beyond written/spoken language. There are some things that can be “said” via images much more easily than with words. Art therapy provides a venue for this kind of communication.
* Art therapy can help people feel more comfortable expressing themselves—sharing their feelings, experiences, and viewpoints—which can improve interpersonal relationships and mental health disorders.
* Art therapy can help veterans communicate and resolve traumatic memories, relieve stress, and reduce symptoms of trauma-related conditions.
* Art therapy can enhance a veteran’s quality of life by providing a creative activity that enhances self-esteem and a sense of self-worth.
* In some cases, art therapy can also be used as a diagnostic tool—to help mental health professionals clarify aspects of a patient’s condition with information different from what they can glean from conventional tests.
* An art therapy program can enhance the veteran’s intuition and self-awareness and activate new frameworks of understanding and meaning. It can provide depth and richness to the therapeutic process that may not be available in talk therapy alone.
Inner Pictures Become Visible
One of the primary psychodynamic processes of art therapy is how “inner pictures”—scenarios playing out within the patient’s conscious and subconscious mind—are made visible via the creative process.
These pictures may reflect memories of trauma. They may be symptomatic of various psychiatric disorders. They may even point to a particular healing modality that would be useful. In any case, they contain a form of information that is unique and uniquely valuable.