BY SUSAN SCHABACKER
Studies show that listening to classical music can affect your brain waves and enable you to have better attention while aiding focus and concentration. Improve your overall health and enable therapeutic healing by making art and music a permanent part of your life. Here is how you can make the most of art therapies.
Right-brained therapies can help people who are struggling to cope with anxiety, stress, trauma, depression, and addictions. The arts can help alleviate and overcome pain and loneliness. Throughout history, our ancestors have expressed themselves in varying forms of pictures, art, stories, chants, songs, music, and dance.
BENEFITS OF ART THERAPY
Visual art can be a therapeutic form of expression and communication. What is not expressed verbally or kinesthetically can be conveyed through artistic means using various tools and mediums. One can tap into the thoughts, feelings, and emotions often deeply buried, but still very real and present. Visual art therapies via pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, paints, and pastels can be a healthy and positive way to confront and cope with negative past experiences that are harmful to one’s psyche and health, sometimes even resulting in trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
BENEFITS OF DANCE THERAPY
Dance therapy can be beneficial to a recipient’s physical, as well as mental and emotional health and wellness and can encourage positive social interaction. Learning and practicing dance can enhance cognitive abilities, help focus concentration, and improve memory. Those involved with dance therapy can achieve greater mobility, balance, agility, and also acquire skills such as increased self-confidence, assertiveness, and self-discipline. Many who engage in dance therapy experience a positive reduction in stress, better mind and body control, coordination, enhanced mood, and overall better health.
BENEFITS OF MUSIC THERAPY
Music therapy seems to be the most researched medium of healing arts and is a creative, artistic, and auditory process that often involves songwriting, singing, and playing instruments. This therapy can help patients with both communication and motor skills. Music therapy can help recipients overcome obstacles, move past blockages, see beyond limiting beliefs, and heal from traumatic experiences. Rhyme, rhythm, coordination, timing, melody, and harmony (and sometimes discordant disharmony) are utilized in music. This therapy can also assist those with physical disabilities and/or sensory impairments. Music therapy can be especially therapeutic for people with medical conditions such as mental illness or cancer.
Music therapy can help restore better emotional balance and achieve greater mental stability. Research studies have shown that music can calm neural activity in the brain and thereby can alleviate anxiety. “Music just soothes the soul,” as George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III wrote in their song “Old Time Rock and Roll.”
BENEFITS OF POETRY THERAPY
Another form of artistic, literature-based therapy is poetry therapy, sometimes called bibliotherapy. Poetry is a creative way of using language to express what one is going through. Reading poetry can help with the realization that no one is alone in their struggles. Writing poems is an important part of the artistic process and can be therapeutic when expressing what the writer of the poem has experienced. The poem can be recorded in audio format and replayed, or the poem can be converted into a song and recorded. Poetry can be as short and concise as a haiku (or even shorter) or can be really long or even an epic (think Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” or Beowulf or The Iliad). A greater self-awareness can be reached, as innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions are released through writing and speaking.
There is no doubt about it. Art, dance, music, and poetry therapies yield healing properties that can benefit our health and wellness. And, unlike some medications that are accompanied by negative and sometimes harmful side effects, these artistic therapies contain only upside potential. They can all be instrumental (pun intended) in our healing.