Art Therapy in Utah: A Collage of Mental Health Resources

Art Therapy in Utah: A Collage of Mental Health Resources

The fundamentals of art therapy are much the same as other types of expressive therapies—an artistic medium is used to facilitate the expression of a psychological reality. This may be externalizing negative emotions and past events. It can also be depicting beauty, resilience, or other values that can serve as a buffer against psychological stress–all common themes with art therapy in Utah.

This doesn’t mean that every pretty picture is a perfect reflection of some deep personal truth. The simple act of making a meaningful picture has tremendous potential to lift and/or stabilize one’s mood. And that’s just the beginning of understanding what makes art therapy effective. For those who are struggling with psychological stress, troubling realities have a tendency to bubble up to the surface. For all these reasons, the art therapist, the prompt, and the person’s willingness to respond to that prompt can all be crucial elements for getting positive results.

Art Therapy Settings in Utah

One of the surest ways to parse out the different types of art therapy in Utah is to look at the settings in which the art is created. As well as some of specific therapeutic goals that are trying to be achieved—

  • Most of us were asked as school kids to draw a picture of our family. This school activity can be both therapy and an informal assessment tool. Childhood trauma comes in many different forms, but even generally supportive families may be made stronger by exploring the content of these depictions.
  • Group therapy is the most common mode for art therapy. Creating art with others helps provide affordable access to direct feedback from an art therapist. This includes residential treatment centers as well as intensive outpatient treatment programs, especially drug rehab. But it also includes mental health therapists in Utah who offer weekly or monthly art-inspired group therapy. Some of these classes are designed for specific types of mental health troubles. Others are geared more toward particular mediums and themes.
  • Art therapy can also be a homework assignment from a mental health professional in the context of individual therapy. Direct feedback doesn’t have to be immediate feedback. By responding to an artistic prompt and then bringing the artwork to your next appointment, you get that much more from your mental health therapy.

Art as an Evidence-Based Therapy

Even if it’s sometimes overhyped, neuroscience provides plenty of corroborating evidence for the therapeutic value of artistic expression. Art may be subjective, but expressive therapies stand up well to scientific scrutiny. Especially when it comes to specific mental health troubles. Looking for more research and support for art therapy as an effective mental health treatment? The American Art Therapy Association has a lot of great resources put together from mental health professionals who believe in the healing power of art.

Look at art therapy for post-traumatic stress as an example. The toll of past traumas can disrupt our neurological function to the point where the language center of our brain shuts down when remembering traumatic events or when triggered by specific sensory inputs. Much of the power that trauma holds over us is its namelessness. Moreover, left unchecked, post-traumatic stress robs us of our everyday joys. A rose, by any other name, is just as sweet. But if we can’t give it a name at all, we truly do miss out on much of the flower’s sweetness.

More than just PTSD, anyone who has repeatedly struggled to communicate their psychological stress is likely to benefit from art therapy in one form or another. We encourage you to explore which resource in Utah makes the most sense for you.

Marcus Pickett

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