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Art Therapy: What is it and how does it help our patients?

Art therapy has been around since the 1940s, but many people don’t understand what it entails or what the benefits are. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that encourages people to explore feelings, perceptions and imagination through visual art. The focus is not on the pictures or objects being created, but on the feelings and emotions that are revealed through the creative process. Often people find a voice through art that they didn’t know they had.

Art therapy is part of our treatment programs at Silver Hill. Even if patients don’t think they have any artistic talent, everyone is encouraged to try. Often people surprise themselves. Katie Wieting, ATR-BC, LCAT, the art therapist at Silver Hill, explains that many patients forget about their pain and/or feelings while they are engaged in creating a piece of art. The process helps them practice mindfulness and visualize reality. At the end of the session everyone is encouraged to talk about their piece with the group. Although this is voluntary, patients who participate in the discussion often gain more insight into the psychological issues being portrayed through the art.

View some examples of patient art in our latest issue of The Silver Lining, an art and literary magazine created by Silver Hill patients and staff.

If art therapy sounds interesting to you, here are some exercises you can try at home. You may reveal some talent you didn’t know you had.

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