It is normal to feel bored, sad, and unsatisfied with life. However, when these feelings start to linger for days, weeks, or longer, it may signify that depression is beginning to develop.
Depression is a chronic mental illness that negatively affects how people think, act, and behave. If left untreated, symptoms can become so severe that even the simplest tasks can appear daunting.
Treating Mood Disorders
Depression is considered a mood disorder characterized by distorted or inconsistent emotional states that interfere with an individual’s ability to function. The most popular treatment methods recommended for those struggling with mood disorders are psychotherapy and medication, although new, evidence-based therapies are becoming more readily available.
One of these new and modern approaches is art therapy.
What Is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a treatment modality that encourages creative expression to enhance mental health or treat psychological disorders. Similar to music therapy or expressive writing, art therapy offers a unique experience that relies solely on the creative process to foster healing and self-expression.
One of the most frustrating parts of psychotherapy treatment for those experiencing emotional difficulties is that they are encouraged to verbalize their feelings, even if they don’t have the words to do so. Art therapy, or the appreciation of art, can help people explore those emotions in a way other than words, which can seem intimidating or overwhelming.
Art therapy may utilize several creative approaches, such as:
In sessions, clients are encouraged to express themselves or their emotions through one of these approaches. As clients create their art, they analyze what they are making and how their art piece makes them feel. As they explore their art, clients can connect bigger themes to their artwork that can help them understand their own emotions and thought processes.
Why Is Art Therapy Effective in the Treatment of Depression?
Several factors make art therapy an effective treatment modality for depression, alongside many other mental health conditions. Art therapy may provide incredible benefits, such as:
- Increasing self-awareness: Depression can make you numb to the world. Art therapy allows you to bring awareness to this numbness in a way that promotes expression. If you are depressed but unsure what triggered it, art therapy may help you uncover obstacles that limit your ability to heal. Overall, expressing yourself through art can help you understand more about yourself, especially your thought and emotional processes.
- Improving mood: Art therapy stimulates the imagination in ways that traditional therapy is not able to. Art allows people to explore their passions, dreams, and strengths without pressure or judgment from others. Because of this, art therapy is able to improve mood. It helps boost self-esteem and allows individuals to experience a sense of accomplishment, especially after extended periods of depressed mood.
- Breaking harmful thought patterns: Art therapy helps break harmful thought patterns that typically occur subconsciously. When a person creates art, they become invested in their art piece, and it can help break patterns of intrusive or otherwise negative thoughts. Over time and with consistent sessions, an individual may learn to use art as a coping mechanism to distract the mind from harmful thoughts.
Preparing for Your First Art Therapy Session
Art therapy sessions can take place anywhere at any time. Many addiction and mental health treatment centers offer art therapy, but several wellness centers or art studios may offer it as well. You may also seek art therapy opportunities within your community.
If art therapy sounds like something that you or a loved one may benefit from, here are some tips that may help:
- Seek out local services that may offer art therapy. Try recovery and treatment facilities first, as they are likely to offer opportunities for creative expression as complementary to traditional therapeutic interventions. You will also want to make sure that your art therapy sessions are led by a trained mental health professional.
- Seek out specialized art therapy sessions or groups. If you find that there is more than one art therapy program to choose from, try to look for a program that specializes in the condition you are looking to treat. For example, there may be specific sessions for those that struggle with depression and anxiety.
- Be prepared for self-discovery. Although art therapy emphasizes creative expression without the use of words, it is important that you prepare to discuss your creative and internal processes. You’ll likely be prompted with questions about your artwork to help discover how you truly feel inside.
Art therapy is a transformative intervention that helps individuals express their thoughts and feelings using creativity. Art therapy relies heavily on the use of expression without using words — although it encourages exploration of feelings and thoughts during the process of creating and analyzing art. Art therapy can help treat depression because it allows people to explore a side of themselves that they may not have explored before. Art can help boost emotion, reduce harmful thought patterns, and foster a greater sense of self-esteem and confidence. Bella Monte Recovery Center believes in the power of art therapy in the treatment of many conditions, including depression. We also believe that love is extraordinary in the healing process, which is why our treatment center promotes compassion. If you or somebody you love needs help, get help today. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact Bella Monte Recovery Center today by calling (800) 974-1938.