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Mel April 2nd 2010 06:29 AM

Art and Play Therapy
 
Article featured in Avatar - Volume 3, Issue 7 (January 2010).

Art and Play Therapy
By Maria (Gidig)

Expressive therapy. Doesnít that sound odd? But expressive therapies such as art and play therapy can be extremely helpful to anyone involved. Weíve heard of art and play therapy, but truly, what are they? Is it something that could benefit you? So many questions revolving around these!

What is art therapy? Art therapy is a form of psychological help involving craft tools like chalk, paint, crayons, markers, clay, and whatever else you can imagine. They have found that there are many psychological aspects of the entire process of art making, and it has been found that this can actually help you throughout your life in a psychological way. It tries to create the same thing as talk therapy. It helps improve or maintain positive thinking and emotions. Art therapy is all about symbols Ė what are you drawing, and why? What does it mean that you drew your brother twice as big as you?

How does it work? Many people are unaware of how to, or are not able to verbalize their emotions and feelings as you need to do in the common practice of therapy. Essentially your subconscious can come through without you even having to realize it until itís pointed out to you. At least, thatís the theory behind it. Then, after you have created a piece or two of art, you and your therapist can sit down and look at what you have drawn and talk about it as well as emotions you felt while working. In this way you can work on moving forward in a comfortable manner.

Who can benefit from art therapy? While art therapy is more commonly used with children, teenagers and adults can benefit from art therapy as well. Basically, anyone is able to try art therapy. If you feel you need help in your life, and art therapy sparks your interest, go ahead and give it a try!

What is play therapy? Play therapy is when you set up items such as dolls to help in a therapeutic way. Then you can work on resolving issues through playing them out. It is especially used to diagnose where a certain behavior or emotion has come from. For example, if every time someone sets up a stage, they put their father by a beer bottle, their sadness and anger may come from their fatherís alcoholism. Play therapy is a lot about metaphors and symbols as art therapy is.

How does it work? Play therapy works quite similarly to art therapy, where you physically show things going on in your head instead of verbalizing them, as especially children have trouble doing sometimes. Without a therapist who understands what symbols stand for, and where youíre using metaphors, play therapy would not be helpful. Then, as you do with art therapy, you sit down with your therapist and talk through what they noticed and where to go with the information you have gathered.

Who can benefit from play therapy? Typically younger children use play therapy, but anyone has the potential to benefit from it. To see if you could benefit from play therapy, call someone who specializes with play therapy and tell them your situation. Most of them would be happy to tell you if play therapy is worth your time.

I want to try it, what now? Now you need to work to find someone who specializes in art or play therapy who you feel comfortable enough to open up to and speak about your feelings with. Itís just like finding a therapist who specializes with grief depression or something similar. Ask around, use Google, even check out your local yellow pages. Art and play therapists can work at hospitals, private practices, and just about anywhere!


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_therapy
http://members.optusnet.com.au/~leining/first.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_therapy


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