Taking to art for therapy

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Taking to art for therapy

Sunday, 13 September 2020 | Sujata Dere

Taking to art for therapy

Art Therapy encourages positive thinking. It activates inner dialogue that helps us recall traumatic memories, share them and start healing, says Sujata Dere

Man is a social animal and we all remain interconnected. People who are emotionally and mentally strong also need social interaction and cannot thrive being islands unto themselves.

This came home to me many years ago when my neighbour knocked at my door to borrow some sugar. When she was leaving, she thanked me, but said that I made her uncomfortable because I never asked her for anything, and was so self contained. This made me reflect — Yes, I would do without something rather than ask another. Going deeper, I realised that, in my mind, everything was all right if I could manage things on my own. From the outside it was a perfect picture, but like everyone else, I had my frailties, highs and lows. I just couldn’t show them. It made me feel vulnerable. Yet, I didn’t think any less of a person whose shortcomings were apparent. So there is nothing to be afraid of — the first step towards healing is Acceptance.

Some things are in our control and we have the power to take steps in a certain direction. This will only happen if we take Responsibility for our good and bad, right and wrong decisions, without blaming others. Every situation has a root, triggers, a support system and help lines. Acceptance and taking responsibility is the key. We can then move towards finding solutions.

Be it stress, failed relationships, complexes, anger issues, trauma or grief; at times we are not able to handle our life situations and need help. Art Therapy is one such remedy. It uses the creative process of Art to improve the physical, mental and emotional well being of individuals of all ages.

Why Art? you may ask. As Pablo Picasso said: “Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life”. It helps us to disconnect our mind from stress and futile thoughts — helping us find solutions lying undiscovered within us. Here, it is not a recreational activity, nor is the focus on aesthetics. It is used as a tool to impact the mind in a positive manner. As humans, we constantly go through different thoughts, emotions, beliefs and attitudes. These can have a negative effect on our bodies. Art Therapy helps guide our thought process in a positive way. It activates inner dialogue that helps us recall traumatic memories, share them and start healing.

Creative methods are used to express emotions and pain, find solutions and identify false assumptions that govern actions. The next step is to restructure the thought process with realistic and positive expectations. This helps in regaining control of one’s life in a calibrated manner.

A minimum of eight sessions are needed on an individual basis to address most problems. In the case of stress, 2-3 sessions may be good enough, and can be conducted in a small group.

The therapist is bound to follow a strict code of ethics. At the closing of every session, there is a review and the closure is on a happy note. This is very important and helps carry the person through till the next session. It is a cathartic exercise where the mind and body work in conjunction with each other. Our mind impacts the health of our body as well.

To follow a more holistic approach, Art Therapy could be integrated with other forms of healing, like Chakra balancing. The whole universe is made up of energy — and so is our body. This energy is our life force — Prana. It constantly spins and rotates inside us. It has seven main centres in the body, starting from the base of our spine to the top of our head. In a healthy person, these seven chakras provide the right amounts of energy needed for every part of the body, mind and spirit. Over time some chakras get blocked through emotional upheaval, fear, stress, loss or accidents. When blocks accumulate there is a disruption in the flow of energy and our health suffers. Chakra healing with Art Therapy re aligns and balances the body, mind and spirit.

The writer is an artist & art therapist based in Delhi-NCR

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