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Exploring Art-Based Wellness for Self-Understanding

Updated: Dec 12, 2023


Girl abstract painting on walls with brushes and hands

As life becomes increasingly hectic, exploring unique paths to mental well-being and self-discovery is gaining importance. Art-based wellness, a lesser-known yet highly effective therapeutic approach, offers a unique way to personal growth and mental well-being. Life often presents us with challenges, from navigating life transitions to coping with burnout, health issues, and the complexities of parenting. Many individuals also grapple with relationship stressors, anxiety, and depression.


This article invites you to delve into the transformative power of art-based wellness and its profound benefits for your mental well-being. We'll explore how engaging in art can lead to self-understanding, emotional healing, and a more balanced life. As part of this exploration, we'll introduce you to the concepts of art therapy and art-based wellness as well as explain the upcoming Ebb and Flow "Art-Based Wellness for Self-Understanding" workshop, designed for individuals seeking to understand themselves better and embrace improved mental health through the creative expression of art.


Let's discover how art can be your path to self-understanding and improved mental health.



The Role of Art in Mental Health


Creating art is one of the oldest ways humans have communicated, with cave paintings emerging almost 20,000 years before we started writing. Across the globe, various cultures have their own special artistic traditions, showcasing the deep connection between human nature and visual language. Art is like a universal language, going beyond words and allowing for a unique form of self-expression. This expressive ability was specifically linked to mental well-being through the development of Expressive Arts Therapy in the 1970s. Those who came up with this idea recognized how creative activities could convey our inner experiences. Art therapy is more than just drawing; it taps into the therapeutic nature of any artistic process. Visual art therapy takes this a step further by combining creative expression with thoughtful questions, helping us understand ourselves better.



The Difference Between Art Therapy and Art-Based Wellness


Unlike other therapies that rely on spoken communication between clients and clinicians, art therapy communicates through visual language to address emotions and effectively tackle complex mental health challenges. The process of transforming thoughts into images enables clients to externalize distressing symptoms that may be challenging to confront directly. Within a safe and controlled space, clients can enjoy the therapeutic effects of creating art while reshaping negative perceptions of themselves, others, and the world around them. While art therapy proves effective for serious conditions like depression, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, brain injuries, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and more, the benefits of art-based wellness extend to everyone. Instead of solely focusing on clinical aspects, art-based wellness sessions integrate techniques from art therapy theory, combining guided art-making with prompts for self-reflection. Both approaches are evidence-based and endorsed by numerous national and global psychology associations, including the American Psychological Association (APA).



Benefits of Art-Based Wellness


Art-based wellness offers numerous advantages. This therapeutic approach equips individuals with mindfulness skills and the capacity to employ art-making as a stress reduction technique. Throughout history, art has been a medium for self-expression, and engaging in artistic activities within a therapeutic setting deepens our comprehension of ourselves and our connections with the surrounding world. Art-based wellness not only advocates for self-care but also integrates thoughts with hands-on activities, highlighting the mind-body connection and fostering a sense of relaxation. Through the process of creating art, individuals attain a more comprehensive understanding of themselves, establishing a supportive framework to navigate life transitions, cope with burnout, and more.



Art Techniques for Self-Understanding and Improved Wellness


Creating art isn't just about colors and shapes—it's about discovering yourself in a beautiful way. Guided art-making within an art-based wellness session can include painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, collaging, and more. Skills learned during sessions can be replicated during personal time, extending the positive effects of treatment into people's daily lives. You can do this on your own or with others, trying out cool activities that make you feel good. Let's explore some simple yet powerful art tricks that can lead to self-understanding and improved wellness.


Express Feelings with Colors and Shapes

Have you ever considered drawing your feelings? Pick colors and materials that match how you feel right now. It's like telling a secret with pictures, helping you understand and express what's going on inside.


Explore with Colors and Tunes

Imagine painting while listening to your favorite songs—it's like having a party on your canvas! See how the colors dance with the music, making art a whole new experience for your eyes and ears.


Draw with Your Eyes Closed

Try sketching with your eyes closed! It's like an art adventure where you let go of control. See what surprising and cool things your hands create when you're not peeking.


Make a Big Mess with Paint

Want to play with paint in a super fun way? Put a big paper on the ground and let loose! Splatter, brush, trace—whatever feels right. Notice how the paint moves and flows, just like your energy.


Create Art in Nature

Take your art outside and let nature join in. Build rock towers, draw in the sand, or paint with water on the pavement. The cool part? Your art won't last forever, just like the moments you share with nature.


Keep a Picture Diary of Happy Times

Take pictures of things that make you smile throughout the day. It's like creating a magic album on your phone. When tough times come, flip through your album for a dose of happiness and hope.


These art tricks are like secret keys to feeling better. They're easy to try at home, and they help improve wellness, process complex experiences, reduce stress levels, and let out your feelings. So, grab some colors, put on your favorite tunes, and let the art adventure begin!



Ebb and Flow's "Art-Based Wellness for Self-Understanding" Workshop


Starting January 10th, Ebb and Flow Counseling invites you to join our biweekly virtual group art-based wellness series tailored for women. Sessions will be every other Wednesday evening from 5:00-6:30 pm EST. Journeying from ancient Greece to the present, we'll uncover the often-overlooked works of female artists throughout history, delving into the intricate link between self-concept and society's expectations of womanhood.


Each session will spotlight the art of a remarkable woman, accompanied by prompts designed for personal exploration. Together, we'll engage in our own art-making, drawing inspiration from these women's creations to reflect on our interests, experiences with fertility and menstruation, memories of childhood, and more. The creative process will encompass painting, drawing, collaging, and pottery decorating.


This art-based wellness series aims to deepen your understanding of personal identities, equip you with tools to navigate stress and cultivate resilience. The skills acquired will promote self-care and provide a clearer insight into how we choose to present ourselves to the world. No prior artistic expertise or historical knowledge is necessary—just a curiosity for female artists, an openness to self-discovery, and a willingness to get your hands covered in paint. Join us for an enriching experience!



The Power of Art and Self-Understanding


Art creation is an ingrained, universal visual language hard-wired into human nature, surpassing cultural boundaries as a powerful means of self-expression. Beyond borders, its therapeutic advantages are accessible through mental health professionals or on your own when navigating life transitions, burnout, anxiety, and more. Visual art therapy seamlessly integrates the inherent expressive qualities of art with thoughtful inquiries aimed at deepening self-awareness. This heightened self-understanding empowers individuals to shape their interactions with their surroundings. Through the cultivation of personal autonomy and resilience via art-based wellness, individuals gain valuable tools to diminish stress and foster inner strength. Through its art-based wellness workshop, Ebb and Flow Counseling and Coaching offers practical strategies to empower individuals in setting and achieving life goals, paving the way toward a more fulfilling life.



Reach Out and/or Sign Up


If you believe that art-based wellness aligns with your therapy goals, we encourage you to reach out to Ebb and Flow Counseling and Coaching. Additionally, we invite you to enroll in our "Art-Based Wellness for Self-Understanding" workshop hosted by Gabriela Bevacqua-Collins.


The sign-up link is available on our website or can be accessed here.


We are eager to welcome you to participate in self-care evenings alongside like-minded women as you embark on a journey towards greater self-understanding.

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