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This Is Why Art Therapy Is the New Trend

This Is Why Art Therapy Is the New Trend

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have any artistic skills to benefit from art therapy. Why not?

It’s not the finished product that matters. It’s the process.

The Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as, “a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” Art therapy is rooted in Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung’s theories of the subconscious and unconscious and based on the idea that visual symbols and images are the most readily accessible forms of communication. Art therapy is often used in conjunction with traditional therapies and can be especially helpful with children or adults with more limited vocabulary and means of verbal expression.

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But why is art therapy so popular? For many reasons, including the following:

1. You can work through emotional issues without talking about your feelings.

According to artist and art therapist Denise Braun of HeartWork City Studios in California, “When you move your focus into your right brain through art, you start to let go of your analytical left brain. It is through that right brain creative process that we learn to release our inner critic and embrace the act of creating. It is never about the product. It is always about the process. Art therapy offers a way to unblock emotional expression without having to sit and talk about feelings. Art makes it easier to represent intense emotion without language.”

2. You feel more empowered.

Art therapy helps individuals visually express emotions and fears they were never able to articulate through conventional means, and give them some sense of control over these feelings, according to Psychology.jrank.org.

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3. You can reduce stress.

In addition to the insights a therapist might gain by watching you create art or the symbols in your finished product, the very act of creating art can reduce stress. Your brain focuses on creation and the often repetitive actions of drawing lines with pencils or moving paint with a paintbrush slows relaxes your body. Coloring has become a popular creative outlet for adults in recent years because it stimulates the right side of the brain — where your creativity, intuition and visualization lie.

Stress levels go down and feelings of peace and happiness increase.

4. You express and release emotions safely.

While some strong emotions may feel too overwhelming to express verbally, they can be released in a variety of ways through art. Anger, fear and resentment might be released by throwing paint onto a canvas or pounding clay. Others might give these emotions to a character in a drawing. Some emotions feel too big to talk about but can be worked out and released through the physicality of various art forms.

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5. You learn about yourself.

Interesting trends appear as you let your creative flag fly. You may be drawn to color combinations you hadn’t considered before or realize you prefer doodling circles instead of lines. Getting to know what colors, movements and materials (paint, pens, pencils, etc.) bring you peace will help you use art as a personal therapy and stress reliever.

6. You let go of chaos and connect to your inner child.

Wendy Young leads art groups to help people learn to play again. Through art she encourages them to explore their dreams and emotional blocks in a safe and creative environment.

Art Therapy is becoming trendy for a variety of reasons. First, it is becoming recognized by the medical community as providing benefits for mental health, which makes it more socially acceptable for the masses to try. Art is also easy and accessible when you release your beliefs around what it means to create art and stop judging what the end result is. When you allow yourself to enjoy the process and stop worrying about the outcome, you will find art to be a fun way to decompress!

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The only question that remains is this: What will you try first?

Featured photo credit: martinak15 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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