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Art Therapy: Healing Through Art

A miraculous alternative medicine for speedy recovery and better receptivity for patients

What comes to our minds when we think of hospitals? The green or white walls, green curtains, cloudy – dull and negative atmosphere etc. Think of a hospital where you see beautiful natural landscape out of the window, a hospital where beautiful paintings are carved on the walls, musicians and performers coming to your bed and performing a gentle melody or play…. Marvelous isn’t it?

This is what healing through art is all about. An idea just came in my mind when I was thinking that how can I help human life physically or psychologically with my art, apart from just painting, gifting and selling.

Art therapy not only involves giving the patients exposure to artworks, but it also has given them an opportunity to be an artist also. In art therapy, the patients are also encouraged to create paintings and craft works. It shifts their mental attention from the hospital atmosphere and makes them more dynamic, positive and creative.

Sir Edward Adamson is considered as the Father of Art Therapy in England. He spent much effort in collecting the paintings and works of art by patients who were in mental asylums, he finally had a collection of more than 10,000 of them! In 1964, he established The British Association of Art Therapists. Throughout his life he gave hundreds of lectures across the world to describe the importance of art therapies in bringing a ray of hope in the life of patients.

The United States Military also uses art therapy to its veterans to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Especially for people who suffer from mental disorders and those who recover from surgeries, art therapy can be a life changer.

For ordinary people also looking at a painting can engulf their mind with a lot of positive emotions. It relaxes one’s mind, creates free thinking, reduces stress, reduces blood pressure, creates an inner sense of happiness; forget ones pains and losses etc. The same wonders and more will be felt by a patient once he is exposed to a wonderful artwork post as well as pre-treatment.

It doesn’t mean that art can be an alternative to medicine. But it can assist in making the patient more receptive, positive and make the entire treatment process successful. There are many organizations which undertake in creating wonderful artworks in the walls of hospitals. It not only means creating paintings but revolutionaries the entire hospital experience.

I’m mentioning about paintings here because that is my subject of study and interest. But actually in the concept of “healing through arts”, it not only includes paintings but dance forms and music also.

Choice of artworks is also important. Abstract paintings can be confusing to patients because they can interpret their own views and meanings for a painting. When a patient looks at an abstract painting, he/she may interpret it negatively and it will have negative impacts on his mental health. Artworks of natural landscapes like mountains, valleys filled with flowers, forests, beaches etc. are the most suitable ones because everyone will have a pleasant emotion while looking at it.

Studies state that patients who are provided with scenic view rooms, paintings or art works on walls, watching regular art/play have the ability to recover fast. Their bodies also tend to respond well to medicines also. It is undoubtedly clear that this revolutionary healing mechanism should be adopted across the globe.

If you simply go through the internet for the stories of patients who got “healed” through art therapy, the numbers are so immense. The research by the scientists of University of Berkeley, USA also confirms that art and natural scenic views could actually boost your immune system. The researchers claim that their study proves that looking at art or beautiful scenery will boost the body’s immune system by reducing the level of chemicals which causes heart attacks, diabetes, and many other health problems and diseases.

This entire system of “healing through arts” originated because of the understanding that medicines alone are not enough for the patient to come out of the disease. Mentally health is equally important as physical health. Only if the mind is receptive, stable, positive, then only the treatment will work effectively on the patient.

Chromo therapy or colour therapy is already a widely accepted alternative healing method through which energy lacking from a person’s body is balanced by using light in the form of colour to rejuvenate a person physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

In my experience, mostly child patients are more panic while in the hospital. As an artist, my presence with my paintings and spending time with them has shown remarkable happiness on their face. No doubt, a patient gets more receptivity to the treatment and fast cure while they are on a relaxed mood.

Being a Pranic Healer and student of Master of Fine Arts, I am also working on this area of healing through paintings, by using the fundamental principle that art can actually bring the difference in the life of patients. Being a person who believes that service to man is the service to God, this is the best thing I can do for the suffering.

Let me share two of my personal experiences in “healing through arts”.

A friend of mine informed me that her relative, a girl of 16 years was suffering from down syndrome. One fine day I decided to visit her. Her parents were very much worried about her condition. They haven’t seen her smile in years. I slowly began to get close with her by giving her sweets and toys. Then I showed her various paintings that I had made, specially that of natural landscapes. I slowly holded her hand and took a colour pencil and started to draw random images. She slowly began to smile! I was carried away by the excitement and joy in the face of her parents. I continued the process in 4 days a week. Now it’s been a year and half, trust me, there is a lot of change in her life. She shows signs of excitement, joy and began to demonstrate tremendous progress. I am sure soon she will be a normal child.

Second incident happened in the hospital which is located adjacent to the hostel where I live. On my birthday last year, I visited the patient’s and decided to spend time with them. Most of them were in pain, either physically or mentally. I then went to a patient’s bed, a girl in her mid 20’s , had just met with an accident and now under rest after the surgery. I gifted one of my paintings to her. I can see the happiness in her eyes. Then I gave her my pen and a piece of paper and requested her to draw something according to her wish. She hesitated at first but she drew a picture of sun rising between the mountains. I was closely observing the changes in her behaviour. She slowly began to forget her pains and tensions. Whatever she drew, she was doing it with total joy and positivity. I adopted the same method to 4-5 other patients and it showed the same results. They then eagerly waits for my arrival to get art lessons. Overall the atmosphere of the hospital ward changed.

Art can do wonders!

I think this is the beginning for me, a long way I have yet to go. I am getting all support and inspiration to improve and develop my art activities by HOD & Professor Manjula Chaturvedi of my University and Shri. Suresh Nair, Asst. Professor, Visual arts, Banaras Hindu University.

Author: 

Neha Singh

Student of MFA – Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi

 

 

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