Whether kids are going through cancer or domestic violence, creative play can help.
Creative therapies are now available at many hospitals and domestic violence shelters across the country, which can include activities like crafting, knitting, gardening, music, art, dance, and drama.
Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, one of the universities now offering art therapy degree programs, released a study this past July finding that making art helps your brain feel rewarded and evokes positive emotions.
Study participants reported they had more “good ideas” and could “solve problems” better after a three-minute art activity.
Why creative therapy works
Experts believe you must use your right brain and left brain to make art, which helps kids (or anyone) process trauma or negative feelings on a sensory level rather than with words.
For example, drama can help children act out feelings and process hurt in a safe environment.
Several research studies in the last 15 years have found some impressive results:
- Art therapy can reduce depression and fatigue levels in cancer patients going through chemotherapy. (Science Daily)
- Art therapy strengthens positive feelings and reduces anxiety. (Science Daily)
- Drawing and painting can help kids deal with pain and other disturbing symptoms of illness and treatment. (American Chronic Pain Association)
How you can benefit
If you or someone you know could benefit from art therapy, try calling local counsellors and shelters first. Many offer creative therapies but don’t list them on their websites.
Also, research seems to indicate that you can get positive benefits from these activities — even if they are not part of a structured therapy session. Try some different art activities to find your favourite.
Has creative therapy worked for you? We’d love to hear your story!
Stacy Graves is a contributing editor of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ blog and website. She gets a “happy boost” every time she goes to Zumba. And this summer, she and her teen son have been exploring acrylic painting pouring techniques on canvas. She’s worked in some type of communication role for Mary Kay since 1994 — loving every minute.