Art Therapy

therapeutic artArt therapy is the process of creating art for the purpose of spiritual, emotional and psychological healing. Art therapy as a discipline was created in the 1940’s in America and in Europe, but art has long been used by human beings to express ideas. The reason art therapy is effective is it allows the artist to empty their mind of thoughts to meditate on a process, express themselves about things they are aware of or passionate about and learn things about themselves and get in touch with their consciousness on a unique level.

Emptying the mind in order to meditate on a craft is beneficial on many levels. Creating art exercises the part of the brain that organizes imagery, giving the mind freedom from words, which is a heavily taxed mode of communication. This engages the mind at a subconscious level, which gives the mind the ability to access information that may ordinarily be inaccessible.

Art therapy also allows the artist to express their opinions or feelings on matters that they are aware of or passionate about. To create art is to create a statement. Art is an excellent platform for those who want to be heard by others, or it is a means of organizing ideas into images simply for the artist’s benefit.

And lastly, using art as therapy can allow the artist to learn things about themselves that they did not know before. Creating art has been proven to connect the artist to lost memories and ways of thinking, as well as help them arrive at new conclusions about themselves and about life by exercising alternative parts of the brain.

Writing as Therapy

therapeutic writingWriting, in the form of journaling or creative writing, can be used as a self-help therapeutic method when applied correctly. Writing makes for an effective self-help method because it can serve as a very cognitive and conscious way of examining the self or life,  it enhances written communication skills and critical thinking abilities and it allows the writer the freedom to be say anything and be as expressive as they want.

Writing is a beneficial way of sorting out one’s thoughts. Journaling helps the writer organize their thoughts onto paper, and creative writing makes a writer examine the psychology of their characters, thus examining their own. These processes can allow a writer to learn things about themselves they were not even aware of. Writing can be organized and edited, or it can be in stream of consciousness style to get the writer in touch with more subconscious levels.

A writer will always find that their communication skills and critical thinking abilities improve with continued writing. Improving one’s communication skills is its own self-help practice, but the ability to analyze and deconstruct information comes with it, giving the writer the ability to examine themselves and life in ways they were previously unable to.

Writing also gives a person the freedom to say anything they are feeling, either to release emotion or to draw conclusions. A writer is able to purge strong emotions they are feeling through the cathartic process of writing, or they can practice self-reflection in order to draw useful conclusions.

Self-Help Literature

self help booksSelf-help books are written for the purpose of helping people implement positive change into their lives. The concept of self-help literature, though a fairly recent best-selling phenomenon, is not at all a new concept. The first self-help literature on record dates back to the ancient Egyptians of 2800 B.C. Self-help literature is effective because it is accessible, inexpensive and is a desirable method of independent learning.

Self-help books relay similar information as would come from a therapist or a life-coach, but obviously, not everyone can employ the personal services of these professionals. In fact, some people who enjoy teaching themselves would not even prefer it. The easy availability and accessibility of self-help literature makes it an attractive way of improving one’s life.

Those who prefer to teach themselves greatly benefit from independent learning style of self-help books. The reader is free to take their own pace with the material, focus on the elements that apply to them more than others and revisit sections of the material as many times as they want. 

And, of course, books are much more inexpensive than the personal services of a therapist or a life-coach. All self-help books of relatively well-known titles are available at major book retailers, both physical locations such as Barnes and Noble and internet locations such as Amazon.com. Most self-help books are no more than twenty-dollars.

What is Self-Help?

self helpSelf-help is a broad concept that has found specific outlets in our culture. To practice self-help is to guide one’s self through personal improvement. This is frequently done through the use of modern psychology, and is often accessed in the form of mainstream literature. In fact, probably the most well-known vehicle of self-help is books written by people who are in some way considered authorities on mental health or life coaching.

Self-help serves a similar purpose as psychological counselling, however, the responsibility of critical thinking and lesson application is entirely on the individual. In counselling or life-coaching, a relationship is formed and relied upon as a way of being accountable to another person. In self-help, the individual carries the burden of identifying the areas of their life that need help, selecting the best method of helping themselves and of being diligent and self-aware enough to implement change into their lives.

Books, workbooks and other reading materials are typically what comes to mind first when we hear the term “self-help.” Indeed, the term “self-help” came from 19th century literature, and self-help books are officially the world’s best-selling literary genre. However, self-help can be found in other media as well. Specifically, art therapy and writing or journaling are considered self-help methods, but broadly speaking, any conscious, educated change a person makes to their life is self-help.