The Benefits of Art Therapy

As a professional, independent art instructor for 15 years in the Lehigh Valley area, I have seen first hand the benefits of the pursuit of painting and other art activities. I have worked with many older adults who discover relaxation and respite from their busy lives through the creation of a work of art that they can cherish and/or share with their loved ones. Some even go on to reap financial reward by selling their artwork.

So often I hear phrases such as “I have always wanted to do this, but never had the time” or “I forget about my troubles when I am in art class.” After one course, many students realize the inherent
long-term benefits of participation in this rather inexpensive hobby.

In my work with physically and intellectually challenged individuals, I have found that they, too, enjoy phenomenal benefits from engaging in art as a hobby. The time they spend creating a work of art offers respite from the daily challenges that they face with their respective conditions.

Other benefits of  artistic expression include:

  • Helping people deal with stress or feelings of depression, loss or grief in a positive way
  • Building self confidence
  • Keeping people active
  • Providing a distraction from worries

My students often say that their art classes are inexpensive and fun therapy! By participating in a class, they enjoy a wonderful sense of camaraderie, as well as share both the triumphs and the gaffes of their painting efforts. As their teacher, I particularly enjoy problem solving with them when they reach a difficult patch in their painting efforts. I get to show them various ways they can resolve an artistic challenge, whether it involves composition, color mixing or a special technique.

I encourage individuals to give artwork a try, either through a class or on their own. You never know – there just might be an artist within you! I am currently teaching a therapeutic art class at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in Allentown for people with disabilities through the MS Wellness Program. Art tools and the work space can be adapted to meet specific needs. Learn more here.

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