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Art therapy

What is art therapy and who is it for? 

Art therapy - Definition

Art therapy is an accompaniment that uses the patient’s potential for artistic expression and creativity for psychotherapeutic or personal development purposes.
It is practised through various forms of artistic expression: colouring (the flagship discipline of art therapy), theatre, music or the plastic arts. 

Art therapy - Principles and purpose

Art therapy does not aim at the artistic process itself: this mode of accompaniment is not concerned with the quality or aesthetic appearance of the patient’s productions. 
This therapeutic approach consists in letting the subject’s inner images (past experiences, dreams, aspirations…) gradually emerge. Art therapy calls upon the body, the mind, and the creativity of the patient in order to give him access to a new part of himself, but also to contribute to his physical and psychic healing. 
An art therapy session takes place individually or in a group and takes the form of an art workshop. Before starting the creative work, at the beginning of the session, the therapist defines the reasons and objectives that lead the patient to follow this therapy. Then, the therapist gives technical advice on the chosen artistic activity and encourages the patient to express himself or herself by visually representing what he or she has decided to invest in.
The duration of a therapy is variable. A small number of sessions may be required to identify the problem. However, the therapy may extend over a larger number of meetings between the patient and the therapist. 

Who is art therapy for?

Art therapy is aimed at several types of public and allows to accompany patients with various problems: 

  • cancer: art therapy has been shown to be beneficial, according to certain studies, in patients suffering from cancer, at several levels of the disease’s evolution. These patients have also shown a decrease in anxiety and depression levels and an improvement in their quality of life.

  • Reduce stress and anxiety: An art therapy session including drawing, painting, writing and collage could be beneficial to reduce stress and anxiety and promote positive emotions.

  • post-traumatic stress disorder: art therapy could help people, whether they are victims or witnesses, to better manage all of their physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

  • children with asthma: children receiving weekly art therapy for 7 weeks show decreased anxiety levels and improved quality of life.

Art therapy can be combined with other forms of support (medication or psychotherapy).