How Does Expressive Art Therapy Help Individuals Suffering From a Serious Illness Like Cancer
Expressive art therapy is relatively new in the field of medicine, but it is already making a big splash with the positive impacts it can have on someone suffering from a serious illness like cancer. Expressive art therapy combines psychology and the creative process to promote healing within oneself. The focus on the mind and body connection, as well as the inner world and outer world connection, helps a cancer patient reconnect with their body and find peace in their diagnosis. Expressive art therapy gives patients something that medicine cannot, and because of this more and more patients are finding it to be an important part of their treatment.
Expressive art therapy has been used to decrease depression, anxiety, and even physical pain for cancer patients. A cancer patient can benefit in many different parts of their life when they partake in expressive art therapy. Expressive art therapy can help to increase self-awareness, build self-esteem (even in a difficult time like during cancer treatment), it can provide comfort, it can decrease stress while increasing relaxation, improve communication between the patient and their loved ones, their doctors, and themselves. It can also help to express emotions that are difficult to express verbally, and it can help to build relationships with others because of increased communication skills and the ability to be more self-confident and self-expressive.
Expressive art therapy is different than art therapy because in expressive art therapy patients work with a trained therapist during the process of creation to be able to talk about the different emotions that they are feeling and to help pinpoint their emotional triggers. Being able to work with a therapist during the creative process may help patients see increased results, at a faster rate. There are also many specific aspects of life that expressive art therapy can help a cancer patient.
Hospitalization can take a huge toll on the body and on the mind. When used with cancer patients, expressive art therapy works to define goals of pain reduction and stress management as well as the ultimate goal of healing towards overall wellness, mind, and body. Expressive art therapy may help to reduce the need for pain medication. As well as increasing compliance of patients for taking needed medications, this is because the therapy helps the patient work through their emotions that arose after the diagnosis and the beginning of treatment and because the patient now has hope and explored more of their life’s meaning. Expressive art therapy may even decrease the length of a hospital stay because of the connection between the mind and body. When your mind starts to heal, so does your body.
There are benefits during chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy takes a large physical toll on the body, however, there is a mental and emotional toll as well. First and foremost, expressive art therapy can help to relax a patient and can be used as a creative outlet. Relaxation can be the first step to calming the mind and moving towards healing. It also helps patients feel as though they have been heard.
A cancer diagnosis can be hard, chemotherapy can be harder, but feeling as if no one can even come close to understanding the pain and confusing feelings that you have is the hardest thing of all. Expressive art therapy gives patients a way to visualize the pain and hard emotions that they are feeling, allowing them to explain it to others if they don’t know how to put it into words. After a cancer diagnosis, it can be very easy to just give up, many people don’t see the point of living anymore. Expressive art therapy allows patients to express themselves and find meaning in their lives. It can also help the patient to understand all of the conflicting emotions that they are feeling. Helping them through all of their different cancer treatments.
For patients who need radiation therapy, expressive art therapy can help patients to cope with systemic or whole body side effects of treatment, and even build self-esteem and body image. Because of the increased self-esteem, patients may start to feel better physically, may see improvements in their total health. Because patients are feeling better, their quality of life may increase and they could even begin to start being more hopeful in their future perspectives.
Patients may experience improved mental health and an improved quality of life. The creative process within itself can help to decrease the symptoms of anxiety and depression, two mental illnesses that can come along with a cancer diagnosis. Being able to work with a trained therapist before, during, and after the act of creation increases healing and makes coping with these emotions so much easier, it could even help to create long-term improvement after cancer treatment, helping a patient in their day-to-day life.
Developing new forms of self-expression can help with coping, social interaction, and personal growth for people with a cancer diagnosis. All of these things lead to improved mental health and a higher quality of life. Expressive art therapy is innovating this change and personal growth because it combines many different forms of art; for example music, dance, and painting, to create the optimal opportunity for healing. If expressing yourself in one way can help you to heal, imagine what exploring multiple avenues for self-expression can do for your overall well-being.
There are a few different ways that expressive art therapy can help to improve a cancer patient’s relationships and interpersonal skills. When there is a group therapy session, it gives cancer patients a place where they can go and talk freely and openly about their experience, with people who understand and have been through similar situations. While friends and family can try their best to understand what a cancer patient is going through, being able to talk to someone else who has experienced it can be very healing, allowing someone to know that they are not alone. They don’t have to explain their cancer diagnosis or experience, they can just talk. It can also be helpful because talking to someone else about their experience may help a cancer patient understand parts of their experience that they hadn’t previously. It can also improve communication skills.
Expressive art therapy helps patients better understand their own feelings and it helps them express them in different ways than expressing them verbally. This is helpful because once a patient better understands their feelings, it may be easier for them to express it verbally. Expressive art therapy may also help improve communication between the patient and their doctors, again because the patient is better able to communicate what they are feeling.
Overall, expressive art therapy is doing so much to help improve the lives of cancer patients. Offering a distraction from their cancer diagnosis, it is giving cancer patients a way to heal and grow through their experiences. Allowing them to access their creative side when they are surrounded by hospital walls machines. Giving patients an outlet to express themselves, and a therapist to work them through their self-discoveries allows patients to become their best selves and heal their mind, body, and overall well-being.