Therapy is meant to be healing.  It’s a space, a place, an activity where you can take strides forward.  But why, exactly is therapy so ….therapeutic?  Well, theories differ as to why therapy is an effective activity but it’s hard to argue against the mounting evidence (both statistical and anecdotal) that show that therapies are helpful for a number of individuals.

While the decision to get involved in therapy may seem obvious, the field itself has changed so drastically over the past several decades that the various kinds of therapy you can get involved in can be overwhelming.  While MusicSparks is firmly rooted in music therapy and JoAnn has found fulfillment and great success using her musical talents to help preschoolers, older adults and intergenerational groups, we’re going to take a moment to acknowledge some newer forms of therapy that are still emerging and gaining recognition.

Art therapy.  Art therapy utilizes art to help patients express and explore.  While the term “art” is a loose classification for many different forms of creativity, the more traditional definition of art related to visual art like drawing, painting, etc., is generally understood here.  Art therapy combines the creative with traditional psychotherapy and has a national accreditation process.  Art therapists generally have at least a Master’s degree and has gone the through the accreditation process.

Drama therapy.  A version of “art” therapy related to performing art is drama therapy.  Think of some of the great characters from the stage: Lady MacBeth, Hamlet, Vivian Bearing, Conrad Birdie and so many others.  These characters go through grand changes during their stories and they give words and voice to situations that in normal life simply leave us overwhelmed.  Participants are able to borrow these words and try out different emotions and reactions to situations.   Drama therapy is still only a few decades old and continues to evolve, looking forward to accreditation.

Animal therapy.  Art therapy and drama therapy are both experiential, where the patients are participants.  Animal therapy brings people together with domesticated animals like dogs, cats and horses.  Anyone who has a pet can tell you about how wonderful building a relationship with an animal can be.  Unlike people, domesticated animals are quite simple creatures: they have few needs, limited wants, they can’t talk back and expect nothing more from you than some attention and perhaps a treat.  There’s something relaxing and focusing about being near an animal who has nowhere else to be and no other thoughts in their heads except whether they might be able to snuggle closer to you.

What kinds of therapy have you heard about or been exposed to that was helpful?  Why do you believe it was successful?  How do you think we should go about deciding what type of therapy to immerse ourselves in?

~Laura

2 thoughts on “Art, Drama and Animals: Emerging new therapies

  • 3 November, 2011 at 8:43 am
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    Chocolate therapy, retail therapy, hair therapy ;) Let’s immerse ourselves in it ALL! Self-care is sooooooo good.

    Thanks for bringing up all these other therapies. I have a dance therapist on my team, and our clients love her, too!
    Kat Fulton recently posted..VIDEO: A Chant For You!My Profile

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  • 3 November, 2011 at 2:32 pm
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    Love your self care list, Kat. One of the best parts of my internship was interacting with the interns in the other disciplines (art, speech, OT, PT to name a few). I enjoyed the year our national conference was a Creative Arts Therapy Conference. We have so much to learn from and with each other.

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