Creative Therapy is a novel way of treating various mental health disorders by using various creative activities like dance, music, art, and poetry. This approach to mental health treatment is quite different from counseling and psychotherapy that has been and is still being used by many people. The Center for Disease Control mentions that in 2019 about 20% of adults in the United States received mental health treatment of which around 10% had received counseling and therapy.[1, 2, 3]
In Creative Therapy, a patient is encouraged to work their way out of their problems and issues using variety of art-based activities. It has been seen that therapies that involve a person talking about his issues either with the therapist or in a group can be quite a challenge. This may be because the person may be reluctant to speak about his problems or he or she may not be able to make others understand what they are going through.[1, 2, 3]
This is where Creative Therapy is different. This is because the patient does not have to explain anything or find the words that best describe his situation. There is absolutely no pressure at all on that person. The patient may just do it by drawing pictures or writing a story or poem about it. The crux of Creative Therapy is use of images. They can be with a pencil, clay, or sand that is used to draw images that would best describe the feelings of the patient and allows the therapist to understand it. A person does not have to be artistic to get into Creative Therapy.[1, 2, 3]
Anyone can do it. The mechanism behind this is that certain images, songs, or even fragrances bring out memories of the patient which acts as a tool for treatment. Creative Therapy has been shown to be effective on both children and adults either individually or in groups.[1, 2, 3]
What Are The Types Of Creative Therapy?
Creative Therapy is of different types which are equally beneficial to all. However, some forms are more useful in certain situations than others. It is recommended to visit a therapist to understand Creative Therapy and take help in determining the best possible form that will benefit the most. There are also cases where a person is more attracted towards one specific form of therapy and is leaned towards pursuing that. In such cases, pursuing that particular form of therapy is found to be more useful. Some of the various forms of Creative Therapy include:
Music Therapy: This therapy utilizes music as a mode to assess the emotional well-being of a person. Music Therapy involves listening to music, writing songs, discussing lyrics, discussing various types of music, and learning. Music is a great tool to relax the mind. It is useful for treatment of people of all ages.
Music Therapy is beneficial for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health disorders, Alzheimer’s, alcohol and drug abuse problems, people with brain injuries, and people with chronic pain. Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer have benefitted from Music Therapy. Studies have also shown that people with depression have benefitted immensely from Music Therapy
Dance Therapy: This therapy involves using dance as a tool to assess the social and emotional well-being of a person. The aim of this therapy is to improve the self-esteem of the person, improve communication and interpersonal skills, and identifying and finding solutions to problems. This is a very useful therapy for people with psychological, social, and developmental problems. Some studies have also mentioned use of dance therapy as being beneficial for people with anxiety and depression and helps in improving the quality of life.
Poetry Therapy: This therapy involves use of poetry by writing them or reading them as a means of understanding how a person is feeling. One study done in 2018 stated that poetry therapy was found to be very effective in patients with cancer. The study suggested that poetry can be a great medium for people to express their thoughts and feelings.
Art and Craft Therapy: This therapy involves use of art and craft like painting, drawing, and sculpting for expressing the feelings of a person. This helps in the patient exploring their inner feelings, help in managing their behaviors, cope with emotional problems, and also develop social skills. It also helps in decreasing anxiety and improving self-esteem.
The therapist will look at the creation of the patient and discuss the feelings that it depicts which will help relax the mind of the patient. A study done in China on adults above the age of 60 and at risk for dementia showed that storytelling and drawing improved their cognition significantly for up to six months.
Drama Therapy: The main purpose of this therapy is to provide patients with a platform to express their thoughts and feelings. It helps patients to share their experiences by storytelling, drama, and theater games. Drama Therapy has been found to be effective for people of all ages, especially those who are recovering addicts, have family issues, have experienced emotional and physical trauma at some point in their lives, have been incarcerated, or have medical conditions that cannot be cured. A research from 2019 states students with mental health issues and behavioral problems are helped immensely by drama therapy.
What Are Benefits Of Creative Therapy?
There are many benefits of Creative Therapy. It improves cognitive function, self-esteem, and enhances social skills. It also helps a person build and maintain relationships. People start having better understanding of their potential and limits. It also provides people distraction from their everyday stress and problems let alone illnesses and pain. A positive feedback from the therapist gives the patient a sense of personal achievement.
It also helps in treating many medical conditions like Alzheimer disease, stress, trauma, cancer, physical disabilities, and dementia. A research done in 2018 on the effects of Creative Therapy on people found that more than 80% of people taking it noted an improvement in their overall conditions and a significant decrease in stress levels.
Another research in 2020 indicated that Creative Therapy was very effective in people with cancer, HIV, heart failure and end stage renal disease. However, there are also some limitations associated with Creative Therapy.
It has been noted by various creative therapists that other healthcare professionals do not take them seriously enough resulting in very less people actually getting referred for Creative Therapy. The success of Creative Therapy actually depends on the actual participation of the patient and how much interest he or she shows in such therapies. There are many people who may not find this comfortable in which case Creative Therapy will not be successful.
In conclusion, Creative Therapy is a form of alternative therapy used for dealing with various mental disorders. It involves use of art based activities to express the inner feelings and emotions of a person. Research has proved that Creative Therapy has been very beneficial in treating many people with many forms of physical, mental, and emotional problems.[1, 2, 3]
There are numerous types of Creative Therapies which have been explained in detail above. However, not many people get referred to a creative therapist as some healthcare professional still have doubts over the efficacy of this form of treatment. Additionally, Creative Therapy can only work if the patient has enough interest in creative arts and participates in the therapy diligently to get the best out of Creative Therapy.[1, 2, 3]