Are you distressed or troubled? Art therapy can help you

By TNT Bureau

July 13, 2017: Anne-Marie Diaz is an artist, whose home was ravaged by a hurricane. The tragedy also destroyed her sense of safety and understanding of life.

Her brother, who has Down Syndrome, is unable to describe the pain and terror he has experienced. He has selectively become mute, and choose not to speak most of the time. It is what his brain told him to do,” Anne-Marie Diaz said at an art psychotherapy session.

Where traditional talk therapy fails, Anne-Marie Diaz says that art therapy helps, and it helped her brother open up and regain his voice. The experience inspired Diaz to become a certified and registered art psychotherapist in the UK and introduce the alternative therapy to Cayman.

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She said art therapy can help people express experiences and emotions that may be too complex or difficult to put into words.

When we put something down on paper in the form of pictures or words, we can look back and reflect on our thoughts, feelings and experiences.

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Art therapy can be adapted for adults as well as children who suffer from any health problems, including trauma, depression, dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Art helps such people to be at ease about talking and expressing their emotions through pictures.

Art therapy is more than just drawing pictures. In fact, art therapy is often a process of making ugly, messy pictures that depict a feeling. Art therapy is, in fact, a creative process where the client, along with an art therapist, work and re-work on problems via a range of art materials.

The spontaneously created art pieces help a person find resolution for specific traumatic experiences. The benefit occurs when the art made facilitates a sense of mastery over the problem. For example, a patient who has experienced abuse or neglect in childhood may be able to express feelings that were pushed out of conscious awareness because they were overwhelming. The images speak loudly than words. With a little encouragement, difficult feelings can be expressed through art.

When a person first sees a blank paper, he/she must have some resistance to explore feelings, so the images may appear tight and controlled. But over time, when trust is established with the therapist, the art process becomes more expressive, which suggests that the patient is expressing stronger emotions. Then the patient starts using paint or clay to express anger, shame or fear. The art therapist, who is knowledgeable about psychological problems, can understand what the pictures represent. This dynamic process contributes to the process of healing.

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