ART THERAPY: A Practice for All

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This post was featured in and on cover of ESLV Mag Issue V, check it out for the full feature.

When we create a piece of artwork, it becomes an extended metaphor of ourselves. There’s embedded expressions that come from our subconscious’, inscrutable areas we continuously attempt to understand and control. Art Therapy taps into this aspect by using the creative process to increase self-awareness and induce personal development in a positive manner. And while therapy often implies existence of a problem, art therapy can actually benefit any of us, as long as we’re open to such aid.

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Growing up in a rigorous academic background, the field of arts, such as fine arts, music, film, were practiced competitively to substantiate our branded identities as well-rounded individuals. Whether that resulted in a certificate or a medal, the process was only a means to an end. That pushed the arts to the peripheral and became a subject that lacked the inherent creative and expressive merits.

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It wasn’t until later on in my life that I realized as a non-professional artist, the process of art making is as meaningful as the product. The creation process involves a sense of uninhibited flow of thoughts and emotions poured onto the medium of choice. Since the product can be as clear or abstract as intended, there’s a sense of anonymity and detachment that isn’t binding to our identities. And in that moment, barriers of social perceptions deteriorate, creating a safe space of candid expression.

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Having such open outlet is a form of therapy all of us can incorporate into our schedules. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have pressing mental challenges at the moment, since it is also a life-long process comparable to the practices of meditation. It engages our body and soul in a stream of expression not bound by the tangible restrictions of our daily lives. If taken a step further, analyzing our creations can reveal insights to ourselves, whether that is values we emphasis or chronic problems we avoid confronting. And at the very least, the art making process is fun and provides a good escape from our everyday stress.

-Matt Chu


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