Art therapy utilizes visual arts to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities. By exploring different creative activities, adults with disabilities learn how to uniquely express themselves and build technical skills along the way.
This integrative and creative therapy has numerous benefits that include building self-esteem, enhancing communication, growing social skills, and more. With art therapy, individuals with disabilities have an outlet to explore their creativity, discover new passions, and boost their self-confidence.
The best thing about art therapy? It’s accessible to all ages, abilities, and talents! Any form of visual art can be used for art therapy.
5 Art Therapy Techniques and Exercises
- Painting with a brush or fingers allows the artist to experiment with color, shadows, textures, and shapes. Finger painting encourages fluid movements and provides pleasant sensory experiences that relax and stimulate emotional and energetic expression.
- Drawing empowers individuals to follow their feelings without limitation and channel their energy with ease. Detailed sketching or free-flowing doodles are easy activities that can be done anywhere.
- Collaging is the creation of a dimensional multimedia image or poster with photographs, words, and shapes. Adults with disabilities can use a variety of different images to share things about themselves while collaging. This can open doors for them to find alternative modes of communication through a combination of different visual displays.
- Photography can be an innovative way to help individuals with disabilities appreciate their own creative perspectives. Art can be intimidating to people who prefer rigidity and structure, but photography opens up a new way of looking at the world and allows the photographer to sharpen their focus on one task at a time.
- Sculpting is a fun activity that can be done with clay, carving, or other materials for a more tactile experience. Sculpture can benefit the visually-impaired with a more hands-on art experience that engages the other senses, including honing an individual’s fine motor abilities.
5 Benefits of Art Therapy
From expanding technical skills to improving mental health, the benefits of art therapy are multifold. Check out these 5 ways art therapy can enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities.
- Improves Mental Health
Art therapy is good for mental health. Did you know that making art increases our dopamine levels, which in turn improves our concentration? This allows us to stay focused more easily. It also increases serotonin, which reduces our stress levels, making for a more enjoyable experience.
- Provides an Emotional Outlet
Practicing visual arts encourages people to explore their emotions and express their feelings and ideas in new ways. For those who have a difficult time expressing themselves verbally, art creates a safe space for them to explore their feelings and emotions.
- Reduces Pain
For individuals with chronic pain, art therapy can move mental focus away from physical discomfort and allow them to find greater relaxation through creation. Focusing on the project at hand helps people better manage stress and anxiety levels that can often be negatively affected by chronic pain and disability.
- Enables Non-traditional Communication
Art therapy can be beneficial for people with autism spectrum disorders (A.S.D.) as a form of expression that doesn’t require traditional verbal or written forms of communication. Many people with autism are exceptional visual thinkers. Art can open doors for them to express themselves in ways that may be more comfortable for them.
- Builds Self-Esteem
Finishing an art project leaves individuals with a sense of accomplishment, which is valuable to improving self-esteem and confidence. When we feel accomplished, this motivates us to lead enriched, productive lives. And you never know, you might go on to inspire someone else!
Get Creative with Covey Connects
To learn more about our art therapy programs, visit Covey Connects. With Covey Connects we offer a series of in-person and virtual programs with engaging instructors and activities where adults with disabilities can explore their inner artist and find new creative passions while broadening their horizons and experiencing personal growth.
Covey Connects courses include painting with watercolors, scrapbooking, and more. For those who like to get out and about, we are proud to partner with Fire Escape in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This premier art studio offers a variety of fun classes and workshops, and it’s open to everyone!