The Benefits of Art Therapy for People with Disabilities
“Art is my cure to all this madness, sadness and loss of belonging in the world
& through it I’ll walk myself home.”
~ Nikki Rowe ~
The debate as to whether art therapy offers benefits for individuals with a disability has been ongoing for aeons, but it is becoming clearer and clearer with each scientific study that participating in the arts is beneficial to all people, disabled and non-disabled.
One definition of art therapy is “Employing the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages with the aim of resolving conflicts and problems, developing interpersonal skills, managing behaviour, reducing stress, and increasing self-esteem and self-awareness.”
When you look at the results brought into the lives of the disabled through the medium of art, the many benefits of art therapy are undeniable. Art therapy does not only have physical benefits, but also emotional, mental, cognitive, and creative benefits.
The emotional benefits are reaped when a person chooses to express his or her emotions through art, be it through painting, singing, dancing, etc.
This may allow for a more “free-flow” of emotions, and may prevent them from getting backlogged and causing emotional difficulties.
Participating in the arts can most definitely reduce stress and anxiety and increase physical and emotional health. A reduction of stress and pain is another benefit of art therapy — this is true for both disabled and non-disabled individuals.
“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
~ Pablo Picasso ~
How is Art Therapy Uniquely Beneficial to Individuals with a Disability?
Emotionally, art therapy can benefit disabled individuals by giving them entirely new mediums through which they may express themselves and their experiences.
“For a person who cannot speak, a dance performance may clearly communicate even the most complicated message. For a person with a mental disability who cannot communicate effectively through words, a painting rich with colour and life may say more than verbal sentences ever could. And, for a person who has limited mobility, a song sung with emotion and spirit may elicit movement toward a state of clarity and joy.”
For an individual who has recently become disabled, art therapy may be particularly helpful.
Recent scientific studies have shown that, while verbal capacity is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain, traumatic memories are stored in the right.
Art therapy is being proven to bridge the two hemispheres in ways that result in an individual having greater verbal expression of his or her experience of having recently become disabled.
This results in far greater cognitive, emotional, and possibly even physical health.
How the TAP Model Works for People with Disabilities
The T.A.P. Model that is being utilised by TiC looks at all the benefits of Art Therapy for People with Disabilities, and builds on the therapeutic values of being expressively creative, which means that it builds on the Cognitive Skills, including Critical Thinking Skills, the Improvement of Concentration Skills and Focus.
T.A.P. also builds on the Physical skills by sharpening the Fine Motor Skills, acting as a Creative Outlet, and the exercising and dexterity of Hands, Wrists and Arms.
Maybe even more important in a way, T.A.P. also helps those with disabilities to build on their Non-Verbal Communication Skills, Mindfulness, Endurance, Perseverance, Self Confidence, Optimism, Socialisation, a Positive Mind-set, Improved Quality Of Life, and much more…
The Creative Expressive Activities are developed to assist in the ABILITIES of participants of the protective workshops and every creative activity enhances the possibilities of therapeutic values and encountering an HOLISTIC outcome.