Music therapist Jessica Ivanovic sheds some light on the oldest form of therapy.
Psychologists and psychiatrists use active conversation as their main form of intervention to help clients process their mental health problems. Verbal psychotherapy is usually combined with medication in order to gain results. I’d like to introduce you to the arts therapies — representing the four main disciplines of art, music, drama and dance movement therapy.
The act of creating art, music or drama, or dancing, is a way of externalising our internal world without using logic, words or too much analytical thinking. It puts the deeper parts of ourselves that that may be harder to explain or express using words to paper, melody or movement. In such a space, you are invited to make art of your situation, which will inevitably leave you with an experience of it, or a different perspective on it. This can help shift mood states and help create new ways of handling and dealing with issues. The arts can help you express yourself, view your internal material/struggles and work through, rearrange and reframe some of the ideas, emotions, images and narratives of your life and mental space.
Arts therapies are helpful for people of all ages, with all different abilities and backgrounds. Humans are innately creative, and there is no expectation that you need to be artistically or musically inclined to be part of or involved with these therapies.
All arts therapists must have a minimum of a Master’s degree in psychology in order to practice, and are highly trained to engage you and facilitate your experience.
I would argue that the arts are the oldest form of therapy practised in every culture throughout every age in our human civilisation and history. Only over the last 70 years has arts therapies become an academic field of inquiry with tests and data that support its immense ability to help and support people’s mental as well as physical wellbeing.
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