A children’s charity named The Teapot Trust is striving to change people’s lives by the use of professional art therapy as a coping mechanism in children’s hospitals. The goal of the charity is to reduce anxiety before children receive their medical procedures, providing a safe environment for children to express themselves, and to reduce the distressing experience for the children as well (Farrugia & Edwards, 2018). By using art therapy in waiting rooms and by telling the children that they may still even come back to the art therapy table at any time of their appointment, it helps to engage the young kids into a therapeutic yet fun activity. Results from a study done with 4,154 children using The Teapot Trust’s art therapists in hospital waiting rooms reported to have an extremely positive effect on children’s anxiety by reducing it greatly. Thus allowing the child to have a positive experience at their hospital appointment (Farrugia & Edwards, 2018). The art therapist’s table had materials such as clay, paint, brushes, and drawing paper for the kids to express themselves with (Farrugia & Edwards, 2018). By providing the children with this sort of environment it helps to give them the social support that they need in order to feel comfortable in the unknown environment. The therapist’s table gives the young kids an area where they can talk to other kids who are going through the same exact thing, while also giving the child the ability to have fun while distressing from their problems.
Art therapy has been used for to treat people with stress, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer’s patients, schizophrenia, dementia, psychological distress, patients with autism, posttraumatic stress, and so much more. Art is a universal non-verbal form of expression that is appreciated by cultures all around the world. It is something that anybody can do; no matter how minimal is the experience you have with it. The integration of both art and therapeutic techniques is the result of art therapy. The great thing about art is that, there are no rules or limitations. The possibilities are endless.
I have always had a love for art. When I draw, I feel unstoppable and determined to get whatever idea I have out onto the paper. It is something that relaxes me, no matter what I am feeling at that moment. The most relieving feeling is finishing the piece that you have worked so hard for. Writing has the same effect on me as well. This same feeling of relief is what people alike feel after their art therapy sessions. A sense of relaxation and calming feeling from just a simple task of just picking up a pencil and drawing whatever is on their mind. When you look at an art piece you really can tell how and what an artist is feeling and what they are going through. The same could be seen with art therapy except this outlet is more expressive in the sense that it is more meditative.
What other benefits of art therapy are there? It can help patients with the development of personal growth, with trying new things and experimenting by coming out of their comfort zone, and more (Rowley & Comisari, 2016). Art therapy is also even supplementing talk therapies because it is seen as a healing strategy (Rowley & Comisari, 2016). Music therapy is also just as therapeutic in relaxing and distressing an individual as well. Healthy relationships may also be enhanced, as well as a deeper reflection on one’s own mental health issues (Rowley & Comisari, 2016). Art therapy gives individuals an alternative focus by helping them to focus on something as simple as their own art in replacement for all the stress that is going on in their head and in their life (Rowley & Comisari, 2016).
What parts of the brain are lateralized while one is creating art? It depends if you are drawing or painting. Painting actually is lateralized in 4 different lobes of one’s brain, such as the temporal lobe, occipital lobe, frontal lobe, and parietal lobe (Ahmed & Miller, 2003). However, object drawing is found in various cortical regions such as the frontal, temporal, and parietal areas (Makuuchi, 2010). Cortisol levels are actually reduced when one is making art (Kaimal et al., 2017). Even when someone is doodling, the individual is activating their prefrontal cortex (Making Art, 2017). What’s even more interesting is that researchers believe doodling can help to engage the reward perception for all artists and non-artists alike (Kaimal et al., 2017). This is because the making of art in art therapy helps to activate feelings of reward and accomplishment. The bottom line is, no matter if you are an artist or even if you aren’t, anyone will be able to benefit from art therapy. It can help one with depression, anxiety, and anything in between.
For more information about the The Teapot Trust , it can be found here at this link: http://www.teapot-trust.org/
Ahmed, T., & Miller, B. L. (2003). Art and brain evolution. In A. Toomela (Ed.), Cultural guidance in the development of the human mind; cultural guidance in the development of the human mind (pp. 87-93, Chapter vi, 245 Pages) Ablex Publishing, Westport, CT. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/619998824?accountid=13158
Farrugia, E., & Edwards, K. (2018). P15 Art therapy in hospital waiting rooms. Rheumatology, 57(suppl_8) doi:10.1093/rheumatology/key273.017
Kaimal, G., Ayaz, H., Herres, J., Dieterich-Hartwell, R., Makwana, B., Kaiser, D. H., & Nasser, J. A. (2017). Functional near-infrared spectroscopy assessment of reward perception based on visual self-expression: Coloring, doodling, and free drawing. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 55, 85-92. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1016/j.aip.2017.05.004
Making art activates brain’s reward pathway. (2017). Bioscience Technology, Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1911967311?accountid=13158
Makuuchi, M. (2010). fMRI studies on drawing revealed two new neural correlates that coincide with the language network. Cortex: A Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, 46(2), 268-269. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/10.1016/j.cortex.2009.02.009
Rowley, J., & Comisari, R. (2016). Healing through creating: Art Therapy. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 23(11), 48. Retrieved from http://ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/1791668664?accountid