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What is Art Therapy?

The creative process in action.
The creative process in action.

Art Therapy is a unique experience. It is based on using the creative process as an instrument of change.
Scientists have found that brain waves change when a person is involved in the creative process. Studies have shown that art making creates the same brain patterns as if one is in the REM state of a deep.
Basically, our brain has three levels of consciousness, the brainstem, the limbic system and the neocortex. Each has its own memory system and level of consciousness. The brainstem is inwardly directed rather than outwardly. It imprints and holds the deepest levels of pain. The limbic system is responsible for feelings and memory. The neocortex has two parts. The left side thinks, plans, schemes and manages our external world. The right side is responsible for feeling and manages our internal world and the quality of things. To become whole, we must manage to recruit the fragments of our lives into a complete picture. For that we need both brain hemispheres working in harmony.
Traumatic memories in our brainstem and limbic system are deeply buried and cause emotional blocks and physical issues which stop the flow between the left and right parts of the neocortex. Trauma tends to prune the cells creating a bad connection. One side can’t hear the other and has no idea what it is trying to say. As a result we lose contact with our feelings which are then buried in the right unconscious mind and even deeper in the brainstem and limbic system. We become driven by these forces without ever knowing it. Both physical and emotional pain, use the same pathways in the brain. When that pain gets stuck in the body, a person becomes numb and unable to feel. Sometimes one finds oneself just going through the motions of life without feeling. Financial or relationship problems may manifest, behavioral issues or stress related illness often arise. Going deep into the subconscious is a way of getting the self back, the self that is hidden away from conscious awareness deep in the lower registers of the brain.
Creativity helps lead people to a new and different understanding of how they think and feel. This knowledge can be the tool that helps them unlock their inner joy. Art unearths conscious material such as feelings and locked away memories that are difficult to express. Art can be our voice when we have no voice. It helps people who cannot express themselves or maybe don’t even know what is wrong, create an outlet to get in touch with their feelings and thoughts. By helping people get in touch with what is going on around them, art therapy helps determine the source of their stress so that they are better able to cope with or eliminate the stressor.