An Introduction to Art Therapy: What is Art Therapy, How to Get Started in Art Therapy as a Career & Art Therapy Resources

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Introduction to Art Therapy

While not everyone would agree with the policies of Vladimir Putin, few would object to his observations that “the new generation … needs to be raised with good artistic taste and the ability to understand and value the theatrical, dramatic and musical arts”. Referring to the tragic incident in Feb 3,2014, when a student shot and killed his teacher in Moscow, Putin said that greater involvement in fine arts would minimize violent tendencies among the young generations.

Art certainly proves to be therapeutic for people in distress and helps them to grow in self esteem. However, you must remember that, art is not a bitter pill to be swallowed to make your flu go away. Art is fun and enjoyable. As an artist or art teacher you should look forward to the time you or your students get to spend painting or in other art related activities. If the artist is a true lover of art, then he or she can communicate that passion and create excitement to everybody and get them motivated. Introducing variety always works – painting outside, listening to music, watching art movies and organizing shows are easy ways of keeping the art sessions to be fun.

Try These Easy Art Therapy Exercises Now

Here are some easy and proven ideas for exploiting the therapeutic attributes of art for yourself, your friends, family or your students.

Active Art Therapy: Easy Art Therapy Activities

Visual art, through its beauty and depth provokes fresh interpretation of the everyday life. Fine art amplifies your voice and gives you a chance to express yourself through paintings and drawings. Often, people with disabilities find it to be a release from the challenges of living in a difficult world. In addition, in some cases art provides an opportunity to the artists to earn their livelihood as self employed, independent individuals and contributes to their self image.

Here are 100 Excellent Exercises For Your Body, Mind & Soul on the Nursing Schools blog: http://www.nursingschools.net/blog/2011/01/100-excellent-art-therapy-exercises-for-your-mind-body-and-soul/

Passive Art Therapy: Sit Back & Relax with Art

Even simply visiting the old masterpieces in museums and art galleries can be so relaxing and therapeutic. And, art is even more fun when you have some context to the history and the passion of the great artists. Here is one movie which gives you the intimate details of a masterpiece by the 17th century artist Vermeer: Girl with a Pearl Earring (2004): http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Pearl-Earring-Scarlett-Johansson/dp/B0001US61O

Different Types of Art Therapy

The beauty of art is that it is limited only by your imagination. There are many ways you can enhance your experiences with art. Yoga, storytelling, dance and music are just some of the many more tools which can complement an art workshop.

Yoga as Therapy for Mind: Relax, Rejuvenate & Recharge

Yoga is a good complement to art therapy workshops click to investigate. Stretching, coupled with deep breathing, is instantly relaxing. The need to focus on balancing your body in a pose concentrates your mind and makes it still. Here is one easy Yoga pose which always surprises me with its ability to quiet my mind quickly: http://www.asm.org.au/yoga/asanas/tree-pose/. You can do it even if you are not very flexible.

Storytelling as Therapy

Storytelling is yet another art form which helps in an evocation of space and time that transcends the mundane realities of everyday life. However, instead of searching for something exotic, look within your own religion and culture for folklores. For example, in some countries Christians there’s a ritual of painting boiled eggs in Easter and eating eggs throughout the day. An art session close to Easter could be creating your own human friendly paint by boiling onion skin and then using it to paint eggs. Rope in your grandparents to help and they will be overjoyed.

Dance Therapy

And who doesn’t love dance! For thousands of years, the ancients used dance as a healing ritual to exorcise spirits, influence fertility and combat sickness. Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) really evolved into a new age healing process through the efforts of Marian Chace, “The Grand Dame of dance therapy”. Today, the unity of mind, body and spirit which dance can bring about is well recognized as an effective therapy technique. If you would like to learn more about how you can become a dance therapist (or get in touch with one), visit the site – The American Dance Therapy Association: http://www.adta.org/

Music Therapy

How about music? Well, when my mother was recovering from a stroke, the doctor asked me if I could play some music that my mother likes. The power of music to make us feel better and get better is very well known. Even, 3000 years back, Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician played music for his emotionally unstable patients. The American Music Therapy Association has personal stories about how music therapy helped patients: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/personal_stories/

New Age Art Therapy: Modern Digital Tools for Art Therapy

New age tools in art therapy include digital technology and social media. Here is a link to a very nice article on how an art therapist can use digital technologies like Pinterest: http://www.cathymalchiodi.com/art-therapy-resources/digital-art-therapy-2/

Job Opportunities & Courses for Art Therapists

If you want to learn more about how you can use the power of creativity to positively transform individuals and communities, many universities offer courses in expressive art therapy. It is considered by some as one of the hottest career opportunity in this decade.

Art Therapy Career Resources

Psychology Today has a series of excellent articles which discuss art therapist job opportunities: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-arts/201101/so-you-want-be-art-therapist-part-one-art-therapy-career-path

The Art Therapy Blog has an article about Art Therapist Jobs: http://www.arttherapyblog.com/career/art-therapist-jobs/#.UvQdHZxBx7g

Other articles on the Art Therapy Blog explore available courses for art therapists in universities.

You can also look for art therapy jobs through the usual channels like monster.com and indeed.com

If you would like to explore further, here is a list of the Top 50 Art Therapy Blogs: http://intuitivecreativity.typepad.com/expressiveartinspirations/top-50-art-therapy-blogs.html

Art Therapy Salaries

According to industry experts, the average annual salary for art therapists was approximately $50000 and job opportunities are expected to grow by 13% which is as good as other job opportunities.

In Conclusion

Art Therapy is a healing process that uses art to enhance physical and mental well being of people in need. The creative processes involved in artistic self-expression helps people to calm down and bring stillness and relaxation, build self-esteem and explore new dimensions in life.

You do not need to wait for a university degree before you can start painting or helping others to paint and draw. Many of the best artists were self taught. And, the most important element in art therapy is a large heart and a willingness to listen. Instead of seeing art therapy as a complex medical tool, you should see art as a fun and exciting way of spending your time and being together with those whom you love.

In this article, I wanted to share some ideas for using the power and beauty of art to enhance and enrich our lives. Hope you find this discussion useful. Thank You 🙂