April 24, 2024

Enhancing Healing Through Art Therapy

The Art of Healing Physical Therapy

In physical therapy, the hands do a lot of the work. They identify and treat areas of pain or weakness, manipulate soft tissue and mobilize joints to improve movement and range of motion.

But the art of healing is more than just manual techniques. Studies show that artistic activities and art therapy can enhance patient experiences and outcomes.

Artistic Expression

Artistic works, unlike natural or mechanical objects, are intended to communicate emotions. They may be evocative, suggestive, or even obscene. Artistic expression can be as subtle as the nuances of a piece of music, such as Ravel’s Pavane, that communicates tenderness and yearning.

One theory of artistic expressiveness argues that the creative process is one in which an artist’s inchoate feelings and impulses are gradually articulated in paint, stone, or other material. This approach is not a new idea; it was endorsed in different forms by thinkers such as Benedetto Croce SS2 and R. G. Collingwood SS3.

A related view focuses on an artwork’s expressive properties, such as poised power or flashing action. The question is whether the critic can judge an artwork’s expressiveness in terms of these properties. For example, does an Impressionist painting’s use of unmixed colors imply a desire to express anger? Certainly, it evokes strong emotions. But does it really evoke the feeling of anger that the artist was trying to convey?

Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is the ability to see an issue from a new perspective or alternative angle. It involves taking techniques from one discipline and applying them to another or simply allowing space for new ideas to surface.

This is why it’s important to create a supportive environment that encourages creativity. This might mean adding more quiet time to your schedule, reading more widely or even learning to relax and let the thoughts come.

Empathy is also an important creative thinking skill. It allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their experience. This can be applied to work, home life, and in building relationships.

Being open-minded is a critical component of creative thinking. This means not judging an idea that differs from your own or closing down conversations before you understand where the other person is coming from. This can be done through deep listening, brainstorming, and self-analysis. It can also be achieved by consuming a variety of content, including text, video, and audio.


Having the ability to communicate your feelings and thoughts in a way that makes sense to others is a critical element of self-expression. This is especially true when you’re working through a difficult situation, like dealing with a physical condition, such as hydrocephalus.

A great way to practice self-expression is through writing. You can write for personal journaling or use the written word as a form of creative self-expression in poetry and songwriting. You can also express yourself through other forms of communication, such as speaking and listening.

Research has found that interpersonal authentic expressions are linked to higher intrapersonal experiences of being oneself, as well as downstream outcomes for psychological need satisfaction and well-being. However, research is needed to differentiate between authentic and inauthentic behaviors, using a longitudinal design. This would allow for a more nuanced understanding of how the two constructs differ. It could also enable the development of a measure that can be used to assess authentic and inauthentic behaviors across cultures.


People rely on self-regulation to maintain control over their behavior in a variety of situations. They use it to adhere to societal norms and prevent behaviors that might threaten group membership or put them at risk of exclusion from the social system.

Self-regulation involves regulating cognitive and metacognitive processes that facilitate knowledge formation, understanding and thought processes. It also includes regulating physiological responses such as controlling attention and arousal.

Children develop self regulation through warm and responsive relationships with their caregivers, and it is an important component of child development. It’s a process that begins in early infancy and continues throughout childhood and into adulthood.

Research shows that creating and being exposed to art has measurable psychological and physiological healing benefits, including decreasing the perception of pain. IPA teaches instructors how to apply these modalities and techniques in their practice. Learn more about IPA’s education offerings here.

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