Art therapy is often used as a corresponding program to other medical and psychological treatments in which patients work with certified art therapists to develop mental and physical functions through art making. During practice of art making and working through the creative process, many patients can improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions. (American Art Therapy Association, 2017) In fact, the act of art making can help boost self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, and reduce and resolve conflicts. (American Art Therapy Association, 2017)
Art Therapy Helps Prevent Isolation & Depression
As you’ve likely read in many of our earlier news articles, seniors with limited ability or those living with chronic illness or injury struggle with ways to stay mentally and physically healthy. Limited speech, movement, and ability can cause isolation, depression, and loss of other critical functions. Using art therapy is an easy and low intensity way of helping those in need access their feelings, strengthen hand and eye coordination, and provide a much-needed creative outlet. Dr. Raquel Stephenson points out that by embedding creative arts into the day-to-day lives of older adults and “improving a person’s sense of happiness and social connection through creative engagement we can reduce isolation and depression; we may be able to delay significant contact with the healthcare system.” (Lesley University)
Helping Those with Degenerative Diseases
Not only can it delay significant contact with the healthcare system, many health professionals are prescribing this type of treatment plan for those already suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases. (Barbara Bagan, PdD, ATR-BC) Dr. Raquel Stephenson recounts a recent patient interaction noting that the tactile qualities of paint – the smell, touch, and feel of it helped enhance communication: “These visceral interactions with the materials opened up a new path for communication with her. Where Alzheimer’s Disease slammed shut the door of communication, art therapy opened up a new window.” (Lesley University)
According to the American Art Therapy Association, a not-for-profit professional and educational organization dedicated to the growth and development of the art therapy profession, art therapists use integrative methods to engage the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. According to the association, “[these] kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic opportunities invite alternative modes of receptive and expressive communication, which can circumvent the limitations of language. Visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience, and empowers individual, communal, and societal transformation.” (American Art Therapy Association, 2017)
Find an In-Home Care Professional to Help
You can work with your in-home care giving to coordinate an art therapy session with an art therapist in your area. Art therapists work with individuals, couples, and families in many environments including hospitals, veteran’s clinics, private practices, and senior communities. If you are interested in pursuing art therapy treatment for yourself or a loved one, or are in need of other in-home care services, reach out to your local AmeriCare to find a trusted professional ready and willing to help you take the next steps!