Art therapy

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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.

It is effective?
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

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.
  • Stress.
  • Coping with sickle cell disease.
  • A type of anxiety that often develops after a terrifying event (post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD).
  • Autism.
  • Cancer.
  • An eating disorder (anorexia nervosa).
  • An eating disorder (bulimia nervosa).
  • Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age.
  • Trauma.
  • Constipation.
  • Weakness in the elderly.
  • Obesity.
  • Preventing preterm birth.
  • Stroke.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Anxiety before surgery.
  • Recovery after surgery.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of art therapy for these uses.

How does it work?
Art therapy is sometimes used along with other treatments in children and adults. It is thought to provide benefit by using self-expression, which helps to improve mood and healing.

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.

Is there concern for the safety of its use?
It isn’t known if art therapy is safe. However, there’s no reason to suspect safety issues when used correctly.

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.

Are there any drug interactions?
There are no known interactions with medications. Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there any interactions with herbs and supplements?
There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there any interactions with food?
There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?
The appropriate or safe use of art therapy depends on several factors such as the condition being treated or the person administering the treatment. Be sure to seek and follow relevant directions from your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment.

By what other names is the product known?
Anthroposophic Art Therapy, Art Stimulation, Chinese Calligraphy Therapy, Clay Art Therapy, Creative Arts Intervention, Creative Arts Therapy, Creative Expression, Mindfulness Based Art Therapy, Phenomenological Art Therapy, Psychodynamic Group Art Therapy, Visual Art Therapy.

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