Healing mental illness with ART

ART! Really? How is that going to help us?  It’s just a hobby for some people, or a profession, or maybe an endless waste of time…

Well, that’s not the whole truth. If put to an adequate and good use, art can be very effective in aiding people with mental illness or even in overcoming everyday life hassles. The human being is a social animal. Hence, the need and power of EXPRESSION shouldn’t be underestimated.

Therapeutic techniques used through any art forms are different from the psychotherapies generally used.

Painting/Art– Be it crayons, paints or chalk, use of colors can help with the capacity to express as well as feel differently. Never used paints or colors before? That’s okay. You don’t need to be an artist to benefit from ‘Art Therapy’. Your therapist will guide you into this. Just paint your emotions!

A particular set of lines, colors, and textures are tailored for a particular type of problem. For instance, to reduce aggression, the usage red color is avoided. Instead, using blue ink on white sheet proves to be beneficial.

An example of the work used in Art therapy

Music Therapy– Music, one of the most approachable media, has been proven to restore emotional balance, especially, with its soothing and calming effects. According to a study by Burns et al. (2001), music therapy has been found to increase well-being and decrease tension.

Rhythm-based activities Listening to music
Composing songs Playing an instrument

Drama Therapy– Enacting a role of another personality, movement, acting out and the likes add to the catharsis, especially with issues of a traumatic experience, low self-confidence, addiction, family troubles and anger issues. Play, story-telling, and role-playing have been regarded as particularly suitable for children.

Mime Speech
Use of props Role plays

Writing – Expressive writing has been found to benefit in a depressed mood, spiritual understanding, and expansion of self. Creative use of pen can even provide an access to the unconscious level of mind; bring out suppressed emotions, intentions, urges and needs.

Journal writing has also been identified to work through feelings, improve relationships, and learn about one’s own capabilities.

Dance Therapy– Dance/ movement therapy can be a powerful blend of physiological and psychological wellness, especially for children and adolescents.

Hand-eye coordination Motor Play
Non-Verbal communication Movement regulated activities

These can be easily used in group sessions as well, which allows for better social communication, a non-threatening way of communication and safe discharge of emotions. Problem-solving skills come handy with this therapy.

benefits of Art therapy.png


SOLDIERS– Art therapy has been found to be effective in treating military veterans affected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). KNOW MORE

MARWENCOL– Mark, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) patient, was determined to improve and heal himself through ‘art therapy’. He started using props and dolls for his hand-eye coordination and overcoming the psychological trauma. Did he succeed? Let’s find out

Hal Art Studio– An art studio SOHO, has been working towards inculcating people with mental illness in the world of normal population. “Because of the stigma about mental illness, I get treated like I am not functional in society. Here we are treated like artists, and I feel like an artist, not a mental patient”, says a patient there. KNOW MORE HERE

Gary Molloy’s BIPOLAR– A victim of bipolar disorder, Gary is a strong proponent of art therapy, having been healed by one. Molloy, now 47, says……Further here

“…Hold on, ART is to your rescue. So, think a little bit longer, dream a little a bit bigger !”


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Further Readings:



Art therapy – David Edwards

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