Why Creative Arts Therapies are a Game-changer in Healthcare

Nov 10, 2023
Marshall Huxley
Why Creative Arts Therapies are a Game-changer in Healthcare

Peeling Back the Layers: The Heart of Creative Arts Therapies

As my cat, Socks, waits for me to finish this article about creative arts therapies, he seems oblivious to the groundbreaking concepts I am outlining on my laptop, reflecting the common view among many. Introducing creative arts therapies into healthcare might seem like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole to some. However, upon deeper excavation, we start seeing the marriage of art and healthcare is not only possible but has potential to revolutionize the field.

For the uninitiated, creative arts therapies range from music and dance, to drama and visual arts, to writing and poetry. It's an exciting way to fuse the clinical and the creative, a technique that blends the precision of medical science with the endless possibilities of art.

Now, if you're anything like me, a dad to a wonderful daughter, Isla, who juggles household chores while also marathoning Paw Patrol episodes, you could be wondering, "Why would anyone bring paints and dancing shoes into a consultation room, let alone a surgery?" Well, stick with me. By the end of this piece, you might just be scheduling a drumming session for your next check-up!

Art: The New Healthcare Hero

When you get a minute, do a quick Google search of "brain on music". What you'll find - apart from the fact that our brains surprisingly resemble a pair of headphones - is a plethora of research demonstrating how engaging with music activates multiple areas of the brain. Hand a patient a guitar, and you're offering them a holistic workout for their brain, sparking up their creativity, stimulating their motor skills, and improving their mood. Kind of like a gym membership for your neurons, if you will.

This cognitive workout extends to other forms of art therapy, as well. Sketching, painting, dancing, and writing all deliver unique psychological benefits. They encourage self-expression, serve as a stress relief valve, and sometimes, just provide a fun distraction from the everyday worries. Think about it - if our minds are indeed the software running our bodies, shouldn't we be as attentive to their upkeep as we are for our physical fitness?

A Picture Worth a Thousand Feelings: Art Therapy

Pick up a brush and a palette, and you might just end up painting a pathway to better wellbeing. Art therapy is a therapeutic approach that leverages visual art-making and creative process within a psychotherapeutic relationship. Potentially beneficial for people dealing with a wide range of mental health conditions, it can also help those undergoing difficult life transitions, like coping with a grave diagnosis.

Let's get a little personal here. In my house, we have a mini artist, my Isla. Whenever she's having a tough day, I hand her some crayons and a sheet of paper. Within moments, no matter how rough the day, her face lights up, and she focuses on expressing her feelings through her artwork. This simple act allows her to process her emotions in a healthier way, bringing art therapy's power right into my living room!

A Harmony of Healing: Music Therapy

If Beethoven could stir emotion and create masterpieces while deaf, just imagine what an inspiring symphony or gratifying guitar strumming session could do for someone recovering from trauma or battling mental health issues. Music therapy entails the clinical use of music interventions to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. And it doesn't necessarily require the patient to have a musical background. They can listen, sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. All that matters is the therapeutic relationship between music and individual wellbeing.

Speaking Without Words: Dance/Movement Therapy

Remember the last time you just danced, allowing the music to carry your body and mind on a journey of pure unfiltered expression? Dance/movement therapy is that journey, defined clinically. It promotes the use of movement as a means of expressing emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration for the purpose of therapeutic intervention.

Movement and dance therapy allows for a rich exploration of the human experience. These kinetic expressions can be an amazing resource for individuals who have difficulty communicating or connecting through traditional verbal communication. It proves the adage 'actions speak louder than words.'

Walking the Path to Wellness with Drama Therapy

If Shakespeare knew that his art form would eventually become a prominent healthcare tool, he might have written a dozen more plays! Drama therapy employs the power of drama and theatre as therapeutic interventions, allowing people to tell their stories, set goals, solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis.

The Role of Creative Writing in Health and Healing

Diving head first into a creative writing session might seem like a dip in an ocean of intimidating metaphors but is indeed a thrilling way to explore one's psyche. Creative writing therapy, which uses writing as a medium for expressing thoughts and feelings, can play an instrumental role within therapeutic settings. Taking a pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard, in my case – can provide a safe outlet for traumatic memories, pent-up emotions, or tangled thoughts.

Nurturing Holistic Healing

Promoting overall wellness, these creative arts therapies address the physical, cognitive, and socio-emotional aspects of human health. Besides the evident benefit of being an enjoyable, non-threatening form of therapy, they offer numerous ways to connect with individuals who might struggle with traditional talk-based therapies. It's like finding the perfect language everyone can speak and understand: the language of creativity.

So there you have it. Creative arts therapies are certainly shaping up to be a game-changer in the world of healthcare. These methods reconfigure the conversation between the patient and healthcare professionals and hold the potential to create brighter, healthier futures for us all. Perhaps it's time for all of us to embrace our inner Picasso, spring up like Billy Elliot, or expressing ourselves in words, akin to Emily Dickinson - all in the name of our health and wellbeing.