April 24, 2024

Expressive Arts: A Path to Healing

The Art of Healing Magazine

From art therapy to sculpting in clay to making soulful self-portraits, artists reveal their own unique ways of healing. And while they can’t heal a physical illness or rewind past trauma, they do provide a vehicle to express emotion, find comfort, and connect with the world around them.

In addition to counseling graduate students, Greater Good’s editorial team includes neuroscientists, a somatic experience practitioner, and therapists.

Art Therapy

Using art as therapy is a powerful tool in the healing process. It allows patients to express themselves through artistic activities, like drawing, painting, sculpting, and coloring. The patient doesn’t need to be a talented artist to participate in art therapy.

Studies show that creating art has measurable psychological and physiological benefits. For example, creating art decreases a patient’s perception of pain and improves their quality of life.

It also helps patients to cope with a mental illness or loss. For example, an art therapist might ask a patient to draw a picture of their safe place. This can help them work through the fear of losing their loved ones. It can also help them connect to their emotions and needs, even when they are unable to verbalize them.

Healing Through Music

Many cultures believe that music has the ability to heal the body and mind. Scientific studies have proven that certain sounds can evoke specific emotions and have therapeutic benefits.

For example, meditation music helps people find inner peace and self-awareness. It usually consists of soothing melodies and slow rhythms that are designed to calm the nervous system. Other genres of healing music are acoustic and ambient. These types of tracks can be used to promote relaxation, reduce stress levels and increase focus.

When creating a playlist for healing, consider your goals and preferences. The content, tempo and timbre of the songs will determine the overall mood of your music. You can also use various soundscapes to create a unique listening experience. This will help you make the most out of your music therapy session.

Healing Through Dance

While dance has been squeezed out of much of Western culture, many cultures continue to value this form of communication, connecting and healing. Dance/movement therapy, a niche psychotherapy, uses movement to support cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual attributes of an individual.

As part of our series on the healing power of art, CultuRunners teamed up with neuroscientists, somatic experience practitioners, therapists, meditators and educators to explore how art can be a tool for well-being. Listen in to hear Christopher Bailey reflect on his relationship with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies over decades, or engage in a guided meditation with Ana Mendieta’s Nile Born or Sam Gilliam’s 10/27/69. *The number of issues included in your subscription is based on the frequency chosen at purchase. Double issues may be published which count as 2 issues.

Healing Through Literature

As a nurse, Christine Shih has cared for a variety of patients — adolescents in a student health center, premature babies and elderly eye patients. But Shih’s true passion is reading, and she always has a book in her purse. Now that she has a young daughter, she’s working on her own project: researching how Borderline personality disorder is portrayed in literature. She calls it bibliotherapy. Literary healing has been around for a long time.

Healing Through the Arts

When words may be hard to express, visual arts offer a safe outlet. Through painting, drawing, and other art forms, one can explore inner components that have a direct impact on their mental health. This is a form of healing that can complement medical care and help an individual feel more in control of their wellness.

DelArt has partnered with community members to pilot a series of workshops called Healing Through the Arts. From grief drumming to watercolor and clay, DelArt’s Healing Through the Arts is designed to help individuals cope with a variety of life challenges. Simon has overheard teenage girls talking about how they’ve grown while learning to paint and watched adults reflect and process through guided gallery tours. Ultimately, she wants the Museum to be a place where anyone can experience healing through art.

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