Art has been used for a long time to help people express themselves and as a coping mechanism. Therapists will incorporate art into their sessions in various ways, and one of them is known as expressive arts therapy, or EAT. Let’s talk about it.
What is it?
As the name entails, EAT is designed to help people through artistic expression. It first was conceived of in the 1970s, and since then, it has had a following.
The usage of expressive arts can help a person find meaning in their lives, along with giving them a way of expression.
EAT also acknowledges that there are several forms of therapy that you can take in order to treat yourself, and one way isn’t necessarily the best.
You may not respond well to traditional talk therapy, for instance, and you may want to express yourself through other methods of treatment.
What’s the Difference Between EAT and Traditional Art Therapy?
There may be some confusion as to what the differences between EAT and normal art therapy are. Both involve artistic expression, but EAT involves more forms of art. It’s not uncommon to see EAT therapists using many different art methods to help their clients find themselves. EAT is a part of art therapy, but describes a much broader range.
Do I Need to Be An Artist?
Artistic therapy is a bit intimidating if you’re someone who doesn’t have much talent in the artistic field. Therefore, you may wonder if it’s for you or not.
The good news is that no, you don’t need to be an amazing artist to reap the benefits of EAT. It’s not about the talent that goes into the work, but the creation itself.
Not to mention, EAT doesn’t have to involve painting a picture. Instead, it can involve journaling, dance, or even something like programming.
During a time of COVID, being able to improve your skills is important. In some cases, EAT may help you to improve your artistic talent.
EAT can involve various artistic techniques, as you probably assumed. For small children, EAT can involve drawing squiggles, or making masks. Finger painting is another form of EAT that you may try.
Finger painting? It may sound overly simplistic, but there is quite a bit you may learn due to finger painting. For example, your therapist may look at the lines you draw and be able to find some meaning out of them. What colors you chose may also say a lot about you.
For young children, these techniques can help with behavioral issues and also help with improving motor skills as well.
Also, fashion may be a part of EAT. Changing your hair may be a form of artistic expression that sounds simple, but it can reveal a lot about you in the long run.
Usually, the techniques you use come naturally, with a therapist helping you along the way.
What Can EAT Treat?
You may wonder about the exact conditions that EAT can help you with. As you probably guessed, it can help you quite a bit.
Anxiety and depression may be treated through EAT. Mindful art can help get you off the thoughts that contribute to anxiety and depression.
Another thing EAT can help with is an eating disorder. PTSD can be treated through EAT as well.
Also, you don’t need to have a mental disorder to benefit from EAT. Someone who is overly stressed can benefit from it.
Other times, you may just be curious about your art and your artistic expression. It’s okay to want to go seek an art therapist just for that. You may end up discovering a lot about you that you never thought existed.
Can it Help?
EAT can be quite good for you for many reasons. Focusing on art allows you to be able to express your emotions better. Not to mention, you may be able to find more about yourself through your art.
The problem is that EAT doesn’t have a straight path towards treating you. For extreme cases of depression or anxiety, it may not help with that.
However, EAT is commonly used in harmony with other therapies. For example, you may try EAT while also trying cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be able to give you many outlets towards treatment.
Online Therapy Can Help
Due to the pandemic, it can be difficult for you to be able to get therapy. Visiting a therapist may not be feasible, or you may not want to do it out of safety.
One way you can solve this issue is through online therapy. You can speak to a therapist through the Internet and get the help you need through text, voice, or video chat.
With online therapy, you can also be able to try expressive arts therapy. While it is a bit easier in-person, an online therapist can show you how to dance, fingerpaint, or perform other artistic methods that can make it easier for you to show your artistic talent.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
Feature Pic By golubovy