History of Art Therapy Essay

What is art therapy? How can art therapy improve one’s psychological health? Art therapy is a therapeutic technique, which originated on the border of psychotherapy and art. This technique is based on the patient’s self-expression through the process of art making. A therapist analyzes his patient’s artistic self-expression in order to find any symbols there. Then, he studies and interprets these symbols and creates the general characteristic of his patient’s psychological condition. When a therapist is aware about the psychological disorders of his patient, he is able to organize the proper approach towards their treatment. The main role of art therapy is to help one cope with his emotional problems. Although nearly everyone knows some facts about art therapy and its functions, very few people are aware about the history of this therapeutic technique and the long way of its development.

History of Art Therapy Essay

It is possible to say that every form of art is a kind of a psychological therapy. I should say that people have been using art making for thousands of years. Everybody with agree that it helps people calm down their nerves and restore their emotional wellbeing. When you draw a simple picture or paint a masterpiece, it helps you forget about your problems. You focus on your activity and nothing else bothers you. I suppose, centuries ago, people practiced the same therapy but they did not understand it. They did not call it a psychological technique. They just drew simple doodles or made cups, pots or simple figures from clay.

History of Art Therapy Essay

Art therapy became a profession in the first part of the 20th century. It developed primarily in the USA and Europe. The UK is known to be the first country, which gave birth to art therapy as a distinct discipline. The first person who spoke about art therapy officially was a famous British artist Adrian Hill. When he was treated in sanatorium for tuberculosis, he noticed that drawing helped him and other patients cope with this disease effectively. He organized his art therapy work reasonably and described his experience in his book Art Versus Illness. This specific approach towards treatment attracted attention of another British artist Edward Adamson who is known to be the father of ArtTherapy in Britain. He improved Hill’s approach and applied it in mental hospitals in the UK. On the other hand, it is impossible to say that Adamson practiced art therapy for the scientific purposes. He did not try to interpret any images created by his patients. Edward Adamson provided mentally ill people with the chance to express themselves through the means of art. He opened a specific studio, which enabled patients to create their own pictures and express their emotions with the help of art. The therapist did not judge any image and symbol. Adamson Collection contains more than one hundred thousand pieces of art created by his patients.

History of Art Therapy Essay

Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer are supposed to be the pioneers of art therapy in the USA. Their approach towards this therapy is completely different. In comparison with Hill and Adamson, they focused on the interpretation of the meaning of every piece of art created by mentally ill people. They believed that every picture was created under the effect of anger, anxiety, depression, etc. Consequently, they tried to find any connections between the definite symbols depicted on the pieces of art and human emotions or symptoms of the definite mental disorders.

History of Art Therapy Essay

Nowadays, art therapy has become very important in every prosperous mental hospital. The prominent psychologists practice this therapy in order to observe and study the emotional condition of every patient. Art therapy can help them study the emotional background of children. Moreover, it can help them cope with their fears and phobias. Finally, one can say about the importance of this therapeutic technique for the socialization of criminals and former participants of battle actions.

History of Art Therapy Essay

In conclusion, the importance of art therapy cannot be overestimated. No wonder, nearly every country has its own schools, universities and departments, which focus on the development of art therapy and its methodology. This study is still divided into two major branches. Some experts follow the American approach towards art therapy and its purpose while others support the ideas of the British therapists.

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