There is such a great deal of information on art therapy, it is becoming a new trend in treatment for patients with mental health issues. I think it is FANTASTIC, as we are learning how to use alternative methods for improving our state of mind. One thing that seems, to me, to be missing in all of the literature, is the benefit of creating something positive vs. negative vs. neutral and the overall effect on mood.
I write about this because our work is on rebranding depression, and often times in the art world brilliant artists create rather ‘dark’ images. While I understand the need to express and am thankful this type of release is positive, what research is starting to show is that creating something positive is even more beneficial to mood and health than just expressing negative or neutral emotions.
This is critical because there is such a negative connotation with mental health, because when we are experiencing symptoms and in the midst of our angst, we see such darkness and feel such pain. Throughout history we have correlated this with mental health – which has done such a disservice to getting help from our symptoms because the disease itself seems so hopeless. We have ‘branded’ our disease through our art, photography, and writings.
What we fail to understand is that we can create an even more profound effect on our mood, and a better understanding and appreciation of our disease to outside supporters, if we create something positive. Van Gogh’s sunflowers, for example, are a perfect example of creating something positive. He took intense pain and put that energy into creating one of the most recognized, well-known paintings in the world.
So I challenge you next time you do art therapy to focus not only on the art itself and expression of emotions, but on using the intensity of those negative emotions to create something positive. And please, share your work with us and post on our site anytime you feel inspired.
Sending lots of love to all.