Psychologized vol 1 - Page 4

Art Psychotherapy and Neurological disorders.

‘When drugs are not enough and words are useless…’ (Cossio, 1999). Art psychotherapy may be the best approach for many who may struggle to verbalise or deal with the psychological issues that they are experiencing.

There is comprehensive literature on the influence of the arts on various healthcare specialties, for out-patient and in-patients (Evans, 2002). Art psychotherapy as a profession has established itself, and this has resulted in its definitions becoming increasingly settled. From a modern perspective, art psychotherapy is described as a type of therapy in which creating objects and images contribute to the psychotherapeutic association developed between the client and art psychotherapist. For instance, the British Association of Art Therapists describes art therapy as follows:

Art psychotherapy is the use of art materials for self-expression and reflection in the presence of a trained art therapist. Clients who are referred to an art psychotherapist need not have previous experience or skill in art, the art therapist is not primarily concerned with making an aesthetic or diagnostic assessment of the client’s image. The overall aim of its practitioners is to enable a client to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment (BAAT, 2003 cited in Pratt & Wood1998, p. 1).

The significance of art therapy is seen in the description. It is a form of work in-between therapy and art. It creates the possibility for connection between two different disciplines in ways that may result in potential healing.

Research has proven that people who suffer with neurological disorders benefited from this approach. A review of the contribution of therapeutic theatre as an approach to therapy for individuals with shortfalls in cognition, communication, and social abilities indicated a positive influence in relieving these disabilities (Snow, 2003). The application of drama therapy reacts to intense psychological needs for individuals with dementia to understand and express their own realms (Knocker, 2002). Patients with dementia regularly experience neuropsychiatric symptoms that deteriorate their standard of life. There is very limited pharmacologic treatment for such symptoms. Art psychotherapy is very useful when working with dementia. Research suggests that art psychotherapy engages attention, provides pleasure, and improves neuropsychiatric symptoms, social behaviour, and self-esteem.

4 Psychologized / April 2014

Figure 5 -Willem De Kooning Alzheimer’s Painting