Why Art Therapy Works

The use of artistic methods with both adults and children to enhance their mental health is known as “Art Therapy”. Art Therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques to improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.

Byron Clinic found the following:

  • When children or adults engage in expressive art therapy, it alerts the parasympathetic nervous system (Lane, 2005), their breathing slows, their blood pressure lowers, and the body becomes more relaxed. This calm state represents an opportunity to engage and treat clients who may not be able or ready to articulate thoughts, sensations, emotions or perceptions through verbal communication. Expressive art therapy provides insight and assists children express themselves when they find it difficult to use words.
  • Expressive art therapy can also provide useful information on development in children, especially those who are 10 years or younger. Cathy Malchiodi explains that differences in artistic development can identify something about a child’s emotional experiences, cognition and sensory integration.
  • Art therapy and its creativity has the potential to impact clients in ways that traditional interventions cannot. Adolescents and adults suffering from trauma or substance abuse can turn to art therapy, providing a platform for expression while building therapeutic trust (Glover 1999). The use of expressive art therapy gives the client opportunity to become active participants in their own treatment.
  • The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) state that when adults engage in creative activities like drawing or expressive arts, it can help soothe regions of the brain associated with trauma, PTSD and severe stress. Art therapy uses creativity to raise awareness of physical and mental states and builds resilience and a sense of safety.

Byron Clinic is hosting Cathy Malchiodi’s forthcoming 2016 workshop series. Attendance at this workshop can assist you to integrate expressive art therapy strategies into your clinical practice when working with children, adolescents and adults. Supporting positive attachment, attunement and empathy as well as resilience-enhancing approaches; hands-on activities to support self-efficacy.

Byron Clinic, located in stunning Byron Bay, provides professional development, training and workshops. Keeping mental health care professionals at the cutting edge of clinical techniques, research and expertise.

Find out more about Cathy Malchiodi’s Australian workshop series.

For more information on expressive arts and traumatized children, see the bestselling Creative Interventions with Traumatised Children, foreword by Bruce Perry, MD, PhD (2015, Guilford Publications) and Creative Arts and Play Therapy with Attachment Problems (2014, Guilford Publications).

Glover, N.M. Play therapy and art therapy for substance abuse clients who have a history of incest victimisation. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 16(4):281–287, 1999

Malchiodi, C. (2016). Expressive arts therapy and self-regulation. Retrieved at Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/arts-and-health/201603/expressive-arts-therapy-and-self-regulation

Lane, M. (2005). Creativity and spirituality in nursing: implementing art in healing. Holistic Nursing Practice, 19(3), 122-125.

Cathy Malchiodi in Australia, November 2016

Byron Clinic is proud to announce that international art therapy expert Dr Cathy Malchiodi is presenting a series of workshops in Sydney (2 & 3 November), Melbourne (10 & 11 November) and Brisbane (14 & 15 November). To purchase tickets online click here.

“Keen” registration rates are available for a limited time. This workshop is proving very popular and because of the nature of this experiential workshop, positions are limited. Book early to avoid disappointment.

» Book online here

Art therapy gives each individual the opportunity to express a unique experience, life history, and cultural narrative. In this way, art therapy can act as an integrative mental health approach, addressing the body as a whole. [We] are not just addressing mental health issues, but the whole interconnected system that makes up a human being.

Cathy Malchiodi, PhD