Art therapy uses different ways of helping a person grow and discover all aspects of one's self.
"Some examples of growth are sensory-motor development, cognitive, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual aspects. Art allows for a safe expression of deep meanings or emotions that come from within." (Van Lith, Fenner, Schofield, 2012).
According to the American Art Therapy Association, “the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to become more physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and functional, resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, handle life adjustments, and achieve insight”(www.arttherapy.org, 2012).
Scientific studies tell us that art heals by changing a person's physiology and attitude. The body's physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation, from one of fear to one of creativity and inspiration. Art and music put a person in a different brain wave pattern, art and music affect a person's autonomic nervous system, their hormonal balance and their brain neurotransmitters, according to Dr. Michael Samuels.
Kaplan (2000) discussed the need for children to have the opportunity to use art that will help with activating brain development, develop cognitive skills, and motive creative avenues through imagination and play. Art also helps with problem-solving skills and increase cognitive thought to explore emotions and experiences.
Community Art Groups and Schools
The use of community based art programs helps provide a fix to people isolated socially (Van Lith, Fenner, Schofield, 2012). Art groups provide a way to engage others to work through everyday problems and to create without feeling judged by others in the group.
In the school system, children involved in art show significant success academically in areas of math and reading among lower-income students (ed. Fiske, 2012). Participating in the arts promotes the development of cognitive skills, understanding, increased positive relationships with adults, motivation, various types of complex cognitive skills, realist view of world, and developing their identity.
Fiske, E. (1999). Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership.Retrieved from http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/champions/pdfs/ChampsReport.pdf
Kaplan F. (2000). Art, Science, and Art Therapy: Repainting the Picture. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley.
Samuels, M., & Lane, M. R. (2011). CREATIVE HEALING: How To Heal Yourself By Tapping Your Hidden Creativity. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Van Lith, T., Fenner, P., & Schofield, M.J. (2012). Art Therapy in Rehabilitation. International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation. Retrieved from http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/encyclopedia/en/article/131/