What is it?
Art therapy is a practice that allows patients to express inner thoughts and feelings without speaking. Art therapy uses different forms of art, including drawing, painting, clay, and sculpture. Art therapy is thought to lift one’s mood, boost self-awareness, and improve self-esteem.
Art therapy is used for anxiety, depression, a decline in memory and thinking skills, and other conditions, but there is no good evidence to support the use of art therapy for any purpose.
Insufficient Evidence to Make a Determination for …
- Alzheimer disease. Some early research shows that art therapy might reduce anxiety and depression in patients with Alzheimer disease. But not all research shows that art therapy improves mood. Also, it is unclear if art therapy helps with memory and thinking skills.
- Anxiety. Early research shows that art therapy might help to improve feelings of anxiety.
- Asthma. Art therapy might improve anxiety and quality of life in children with asthma. But it doesn’t seem to help with symptoms.
- Decline in memory and thinking skills in older people that is more than what is normal for their age. Early research shows that art therapy improves thinking skills in older people.
- Depression. Most early research shows that art therapy might help patients with depression.
- Fatigue. Early research shows that art therapy might help to reduce fatigue.
- Feelings of well-being. Early research shows that art therapy might help to improve feelings of well-being.
- Quality of life. Early research shows that art therapy might help to improve quality of life.
- Schizophrenia. Some research shows that art therapy might help to reduce symptoms and improve function in people with schizophrenia. But not all research agrees.
- Quitting smoking. Art therapy doesn’t seem to help adolescents quit smoking. But it might make them feel better about themselves while they are trying to quit.
- Coping with sickle cell disease.
- A type of anxiety that often develops after a terrifying event (post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD).
- An eating disorder (anorexia nervosa).
- An eating disorder (bulimia nervosa).
- Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age.
- Weakness in the elderly.
- Preventing preterm birth.
- Substance abuse.
- Anxiety before surgery.
- Recovery after surgery.
- Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of art therapy for these uses.
Art therapy is usually done with a trained art therapist or other health professional. It involves drawing, painting, and constructing to help with communication of difficult issues, as well as to calm emotions and reduce stress. Some people believe that by calming the body and emotions, there might be positive benefits for the immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information to know if art therapy is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. But there’s no reason to expect safety concerns when used correctly.
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