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Humanities 1

Inner Artist
From the flow of lines, creases in the page, pigments applied from a medium, and the
inner working of a soul: art begins. Throughout history, art has provided intimate insight into
the lives of the deceased and offered many clues about the events and cultural changes of each
time period. The origin of art dates back to the Cave Men and Egyptians for their use of
hieroglyphics as a language, historical record, and a homage to the afterlife. Architecture and
sculpture sparked the next two major artistic developments. Then the Renaissance period and
other various movements pushed art into its most raw and intricate forms. In todays society, the
new artistic revolution, Art Therapy, combines the creative processes of each individual with
the theories of psychology. Art Therapy encompasses the beauty of personal creation and selfexpression that evolved into a connection to ones inner self and an effective method of healing.
Art as a form of nonverbal communication and a connection with ones innermost
feelings defines the general understanding of Art Therapy. The denotation of Art Therapy states
a type of psychotherapy that encourages the expression of emotions through artistic activities
such as painting, drawing, or sculpture but includes other techniques ("Art Therapy). Genres
of Art Therapy encompass a spectrum from visual arts to movement, such as dance, without any
restraint and span far beyond the boundaries of a traditional classroom. In fact, this branch of
psychotherapy appears in daily life, albeit subtly. A hidden platform of Art Therapy starts in the
classroom with projects and creative courses where patients express themselves without words
or use words only to reflect on his/her artwork. This subtlety exists as the focus of the project
and may stem from another art form such as a novel or movie. Many individuals, however,
choose to create a personalized method or alter an existing technique to suit their needs for

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The history of Art Therapy remains one of depth and evolution. The origin of Art
Therapy dates back to the Navajo sand paintings and African sculptures as a way of self
expression and communication to others (Blackwell). The introduction of Art Therapy arrived
in the United States in the 1940s when Margaret Naumburg, a United States citizen,
commenced clinical cases in this field and gained recognition for her work. At first she sparked
Art Therapy ideals as an experiment with clinical trials, but soon her work evolved into a new
field of communication with oneself. After her work excited the public, other Therapists began
similar studies and learned more throughout history and their studies carried into the twenty
first century and incorporated new technology. With new technological advances, more
information on the transformation of Art Therapy became known which allowed therapists to
determine the time period and the extent each technique of psychotherapy helped individuals.
With this information, todays Therapists possess the ability to prescribe similar methods used
in the past to allow patients to heal from modern challenges.
Today, many different organizations such as the International Society for
Psychopathology of Expression and the American Society of Psychopathology of Expression,
provide new research and resources in order to benefit the greatest number of patients. These
organizations affect the Art Therapy field both domestically and globally. These organizations
also implement the standards and qualifications required for an individual to practice Art
Therapy. An individual who specializes in this field needs a Bachelors degree and an
accompanying Masters degree in counseling with a concentration in expressive art therapy;
many choose to continue on to PhD after receiving those degrees (Expressive Arts Therapy).
Such standardizations helped the field grow and continues to improve psychotherapy. Before

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these organizations, the Art Therapy field remained in a primitive and scattered form, however,
the branch slowly grew and condensed into the form it holds today.
Although many individuals assisted in Art Therapys advance and expansion, two
individuals guided the field. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung influenced the development of Art
Therapy the most. Freud employed the active unconscious and personality of individuals to
develop and explain his later theories in the 1880s and continued until his death. One of his
earlier theories stemmed from allowing the mind to produce thoughts and images without the
usual constraints of logic or proprietary and he named this theory, Free Association
(Blackwell). Freud also discovered that dreams act as a connection between madness and
creativity which sparks psychological and psychoanalytical pathways to visual art healing. In
addition to Freud, Jung also aided in the birth of Art Therapy. Jung started his work in the 1900s
and examined an artistic image as a whole and considered the individual components as clues.
Jungs method mainly analyzed the whole image to determine the underlying meaning of the
work instead of concentrating solely on the individual aspects. Throughout his research, Jung
firmly believed to paint what we see before us is a different art from painting from what we
see within, (Blackwell) another component of his holistic methods. Any two artists may
observe the same scene at the exact same time, but each piece stands apart from the other
because as Jung theorized, an artist may paint what he/she sees but the artist puts himself/
herself into his/her creation (Blackwell). These discoveries explain how and why art works
effectively as a communication to the inner self but also creating a representation of the
individual because two individuals interpret the world differently. Jung also introduced the
mandala, also known as a magic circle that contains personality and chaos (Blackwell).
Creating and coloring mandalas remains a popular Art Therapy technique today.

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Art Therapy provides a platform to release an assortment of emotions. Before an
individual benefits from Art Therapy, he/she must grasp the concept that the cause of his/her
pain and frustration originates from his/her emotions. The definition of an emotion includes
cognitive states in the senses that they purport to be about things in the world but more
commonly known as an individuals mood (McNiff). Essentially, emotions define how
individuals feel about, or in, a situation. The following components: an association, belief
requirement, Phenomenological Thesis, and the Valence Thesis, unite in order to form
emotions. Without all four, emotions may not form completely or form inappropriately.
Emotions tend to connect to objects and events in both positive and negative ways. For
example, individuals tend to fear objects or events based on a fear factor: the association. Many
individuals afraid of heights tend to associate heights with falling, which remains unpleasant
but effectively creates the association aspect of an emotion. The fear of heights or fear of falling
provokes an anxious emotion caused by the persons belief in the fear, thus fulfilling the belief
requirement. These ideals lead into the Phenomenological Thesis which states objects and
events fall into a spectrum of intensity that associates with the specific emotion, so heights
provokes an intense anxious mental state. The Valence Thesis suggests that the intensity of an
emotion ranges from negative to positive, which means that the fear of height may range from
petrified to wonderful depending on the individual (McNiff). The Valence Theory also explains
the emotional connection people may feel toward characters in books and TV shows. Emotions
affect individuals in most situations but call for psychotherapy when the emotions start to
impede an individual.
Many individuals, however, ignore their emotions or pretend to lack emotions. Therapists
diagnose this behavior as emotion suppression. Keeping emotions unspoken and/or allowing

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them to build negatively affects the individual. A healthier way of dealing with unpleasant or
unwanted feelings starts with the acknowledgment of them. After such acknowledgment, Art
Therapy acts as a healthy means to release such feelings. In one study, regarding emotions
effects on relationships, James Gross concluded that suppressing your emotions pretty well
shuts down communication within the relationship, and without a catharsis, an individual fails
to communicate himself/herself in a relationship and then spreads to other aspects of his/her life
(Johnson). He also found that emotions intensify the more they sit below the surface and the
body emits signals of that feeling. By addressing the sentiment, the emotions of the mind
change which causes the signals to change as well. Most attempts to avoid emotions instead of
identifying and neutralizing them negatively impact ones health.
A wide range of mental health concerns benefits from Art Therapy. Conditions
commonly treated with Art Therapy range from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and
eating disorders to social challenges and traumatic brain injury. The individuals who benefit
from this division of psychotherapy fall into no specific category nor meet any criteria. This
field encompasses many techniques that cure age-specific disorders as well as social challenges.
For example, elderly individuals may seek an art therapist to cope with loneliness or death
anxiety, but a child benefits from this psychotherapy for life transitions or social interactions.
Art Therapy effectively heals an individual with a myriad of approaches. These methods help
patients: communicate emotions or aspects of life that seem difficult to describe; enhance one's
self esteem and sense of achievement; provide a safe and constructive outlet, and tap into the
inner strengths of the patient which initiates the healing process (Kaur). Art Therapy allows
individuals to heal from the frustration in their lives by freely expressing their feelings

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Not every individual seeking psychotherapy deals with a diagnosed disorder or clinically
recognized social challenge. Some individuals may not be able to effectively express his/her
emotions or deal with daily setbacks. A few simple examples of daily art psychotherapy
techniques include finger painting, mask making, and even listening to and dancing to music
(Expressive Arts Therapy). While broad examples, therapists recommend more specific
exercises based on individual needs. If an individual seeks this branch of art and psychology for
relaxation, a therapist may prescribe coloring a design such as in the design books trending in
todays market, whereas an individual seeking counseling for happiness may draw a wonderful
flower in full bloom paired with an inspiring quote (100 Excellent). Giving testimony to the
benefits of Art Therapy, inspiration blogs surfaced recently as a very popular forum for patients
to describe their healing journey and inspire others. In one post, The decorative collages of
Milo Matthieu, the artist explains his process as a discovery because he lets the colors set the
tone of work and he shared his artwork publicly to motivate others to create their emotions as
a release (Artists Inspire). Another popular techniques includes the use of music. Taylor Swift
sings about what she believes makes life beautiful: love, loss, and loneliness, while the band
The Killers draws from a range from classical roots, random jam sessions, and life events for
inspiration (Kocsis). These methods, as well as prescribed methods, may effect the individual in
a positive way because therapists help patients choose music that provokes happy memories or
a memory that allows positive emotions to soar.
Another common link between Art and Therapy, dreaming, materializes in the brain at
night. The state of dreaming allows for a time of unlimited creation, similar to imagination.
During the sleep cycle, the body cleanses itself in order to perform at its peak the next day,
however, many emotions appear in dreams. During this cleanse, endorphins and other hormones

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affecting mood create a dream with any aspect of life that upset, or left an impact on an
individual. Freud also influenced the study of the unconscious mind which includes dreaming,
in addition to Art Therapy. He theorized that dreams contain two portions, Latent Content and
Manifest Content. Latent Content describes the underlying or hidden meaning(McNiff),
whereas Manifest Content contains the dream itself(McNiff). When looking at Latent
Content, a therapist investigates the specific representation of each feature of the dream,
however, Manifest Content examines the dream from a holistic viewpoint. In relation to Art
Therapy, when experiencing a dream or a shift in emotions and thinking, a patient discovers
therapeutic qualities in recreating his/her vision through art. In the text Art As Medicine, Shaun
McNiff, describes an example of a therapist attending a skills retreat who swam under docks as
a child and one night dreamt she swam under a boat. After looking at the dreams as whole and
individual aspects, the other therapists and artists on the retreat concluded her dream
represented the happiness she felt as a child, based on her appearance: a bright smile (McNiff).
This case perfectly illustrates the link between art and psychotherapy.
Art Therapy touches almost every aspect of lives and encompasses a wide range of
techniques to aid patients ability to react to situations of pleasure or discomfort. Many
individuals argue that this branch of psychotherapy only provides help for the artistically
inclined and fails to work for others. That statement remains inherently false. Art Therapy
connects one to his/her inner self and allows communication without words. The quality of the
art holds value, but the focus of Art Therapy is using art to heal. Another myth states that some
patients may lack artistic ability, however, that statement proves false as humans exist as
intrinsically artistic and no one judges the quality of art in Art Therapy. When the brain receives
an image, the images excite the primary motor cortex and the muscles, biologically, art

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provokes excitement and brain activity (Naar). Also, a study conducted found that engaging in
new and complex activity helps the brain to create new connections between brain cells, and
those with an artists block enhance their brains by trying to engage in the complexity of art
(Alban). That moment of creative processes qualifies as a technique of Art Therapy. Art
Therapy may only work as a portion of a prescription, but positively affects for every
An effective method to help patients heal, Art Therapy, acts as an enjoyable way for
patients of all ages and stages of mental stability to release emotions. Through the various
techniques, patients may connect to their inner selves and express those emotions through
movement or visual art. This catharsis allows the individuals to heal from a disorder or perhaps
another damaging event. Many Art Therapy techniques provoke a somewhat euphoric result;
the patient feels relaxed and able to conquer their personal struggles. Throughout history, many
cultures, past and present, chose to employ Art Therapys techniques and helped transform this
branch of psychotherapy into the global phenomenon it has become in todays society.

Works Cited
"100 Excellent Art Therapy Exercises for Your Mind, Body, and Soul | Nursing"
Nursing Schoolsnet 100 Excellent Art Therapy Exercises for Your Mind Body and
Soul Comments. Nursing, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Alban, Deane. "The Mental Health Benefits of Art Are for Everyone." Be Brain Fit. Be Brain
Fit & Blue Sage, LLC, 21 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
"Art Therapy.", 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

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"Artists Inspire Artists - Art Inspiration." Artists Inspire Artists. WordPress, 15 Dec. 2015.
Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
Blackwell, Wiley. "The Wiley Handbook of Art Therapy." Google Books. Wiley- Blackwell
Publications, Jan. 2016. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
"Expressive Arts Therapy." Expressive Arts Therapy. Ed. Chesna Klimek. Good Therapy, 27
July 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Johnson, Sue. "Suppressing Emotions." Psychology Today. Health, 22 Apr. 2010.
Web. 16 Dec. 2015.
Kaur, Rupinder, and Rubi Garyfalakis. "Benefits Art as Therapy." Art as Therapy. Art as
Therapy Treatment Clinics, 14 Dec. 2015. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Kocsis, Julie. "The Killers Look to Classic Rock Artists for Inspiration on New Album,
Battle Born." The Huffington Post., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 15
Dec. 2015.
McNiff, Shaun. Art as Medicine: Creating a Therapy of the Imagination. Boston: Shambhala,
1992. Print.
Naar, Hichem. "Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 15 Dec. 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.