Disadvantages of Art Therapy: What You Should Know
Disadvantages of art therapy?
Yes, you read it right.
Like all topics of importance, art therapy has both advantages and disadvantages.
Art therapy has many benefits.
Benefits, such as improving your way of living or how it can help with emotional and psychological struggles.
However, there is a downside to art therapy as a treatment or as a profession.
Knowing the disadvantages of something is also helpful.
Besides, it will guide you in decision-making by weighing the pros and cons.
The primary purpose of art therapy is to contribute to the well-being of a person.
Thus, you should not commit immediately to any treatment plan without knowing all the factors involved.
Do not be discouraged by the word disadvantages because this is a way to discover all sides of art therapy.
So, as you scroll down further, a brief explanation of facts about art therapy will be discussed.
Table of Contents
What Is Art Therapy?
Through a visual creative process, art therapy focuses on developing personal coping habits involving the physical, mental, and emotional qualities of an individual.
It has been observed in studies that self-expression can help deal with different health concerns and develop personal insights.
This kind of therapy doesn’t require you to be talented in any creative skill.
Thus, the goal is for you to be comfortable expressing yourself in any manner through visual arts.
You don’t necessarily have to set an appointment with a therapist.
Although, it is still beneficial to consult with a professional.
There is still mental and physical work by attending to a subtle activity compared to logical puzzles or sporty exercises.
However, a psychotherapeutic technique is also in the process.
Creative exercises will touch on personal mood, thoughts, or behavior.
It’s like you’re already having a psychotherapeutic session, whether it’s by yourself or with other people.
When you start doing any art, you’ll eventually learn to progress your social skills.
Especially when you’re ready to share your ideas with people who can relate to what you are doing or what you are saying.
Of course, not all circumstances will be the same.
So, you can also expect another outcome when you practice art therapy.
A few types of art therapy would be:
- Collage making
- Digital (which covers several specific forms of art you can choose)
You can check out the article by Art Therapy Resources to have an idea of those options.
Art therapy can help with the self-awareness and self-esteem of individuals undergoing emotional and psychological challenges through modalities that can improve levels of function.
A Brief History
Visual arts as a form of therapy did not immediately become a formal program.
Although, there are some historical facts about how art therapy started.
Being part of the psychodynamic theory in the 1930s, psychiatrists started studies on the relationship between art and illness by observing their patients.
Doctors have noticed that a patient with a mental illness (whether born with it or developed) can often express themselves better through drawings and other artwork, thus leading to the discovery of art as a potential healing strategy.
Moreover, artists and creative educators closely observe that people of any age use art differently as a form of communication.
In addition, the term Art Therapy was by Adrian Hill in 1942.
You can read more about how it started in the United Kingdom in a publication on ResearchGate entitled Art Therapy: An Underutilized, yet Effective Tool.
Other early contributors are:
- Hanna Kwiatkowska, who focused on family art therapy
- Edith Kramer proposed the Art-As-Therapy approach
- Elinor Ulman, founder of The Bulletin of Art Therapy
- Florence Cane, who started educating about art therapy
Humorously, these early contributors were coincidentally all-female.
They were sometimes referred to as the “Mothers of Art Therapy.”
Furthermore, Margaret Naumburg is famous as the “Mother of Art Therapy” besides defining the theory of Art-In-Therapy.
She dedicated her knowledge to educating people about art therapy.
It is believed by many that she is the very first psychotherapist to use art therapy.
No matter who, when, or where it started, respectfully, all contributors have one goal.
This goal is to inform everyone how we can benefit from it and perhaps the relevance of practicing it.
Who Should Use Art Therapy?
People can benefit from art therapy.
However, let’s specify those who need it the most.
Those experiencing mental disorders and psychological distress, probably due to several possible reasons, can try art therapy as part of their routine.
You can view more about it in Very Well Mind, an online resource about mental health based in New York, USA.
To name a few of these illnesses, we are talking about:
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress
- Dissociative disorders
- Somatic symptom disorders
- Neurodevelopmental disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Substance-related disorders
- Neurocognitive disorders
- And many others
It helps people living in pain by reducing their stress and anxiety.
This is due to a sense of control present while doing your chosen artwork.
Since creating your masterpiece is something personal to you and made out of your expressions and thoughts.
It’s like being in your space where you can choose anything you want, do anything you can, and put all your emotions into visual art.
There is also the potential for skill enhancement as you go through art therapy.
Besides, it is suitable for children with disabilities or patients with limited capabilities due to injury or trauma.
Moreover, there is a difference between art therapy and expressive art therapy.
Wherein art therapy focuses on visual art, but expressive art therapy is not limited to visual arts.
If you consult with a therapist, they might also suggest expressive art therapy that involves music, dancing, writing, and other activities, depending on each patient’s condition.
Then again, there is no guarantee that therapy can cure one’s illness.
However, it will significantly contribute to improved living circumstances.
Limitations and Concerns
Although art therapy sounds perfect, there are always two sides to something.
Here, we will discuss the hindrances when it comes to art therapy.
First, let’s be clear that art therapy is not the same as attending a regular art class.
In an art class, your goal is to come up with a finished artwork to showcase.
However, in art therapy, the goal is to show your thoughts and emotions during the process, even without a finished product.
The purpose of therapy with visual art is to encourage a person to comfortably express his/her feelings, imaginations, and perceptions.
A therapist would most likely observe and ask questions during the art process.
This might intimidate some, especially those who have difficulty opening up to people they barely know.
There is no room for judgment on the art process for the therapist.
Thus, even simple observations might overwhelm some patients in the beginning.
In addition, if the patient has low self-esteem, they might get the idea that they are not talented or equipped enough to try art therapy.
Also, sessions must still follow a schedule because other patients need counseling services too.
So, whether or not the therapist deciphers or finds interesting information, sessions are limited even if it is a slow process.
These limited sessions might also be pressuring or frustrating to the patients if they feel like they have not finished their art for the day.
That is also why proper planning with counseling modes must be facilitated right.
Because of these few limitations and concerns mentioned, we still can’t avoid skeptics being doubtful of the effectiveness of art therapy.
These skeptics may even be a patient or part of the support system, which will affect the process significantly.
Costly and High Investment
There are financial disadvantages when we talk about art therapy.
As such, it is costly for patients and high investment for therapists.
For patients, it can be costly to consult with a therapist and book sessions.
In the first place, no one plans to save up for a therapist anytime in the future.
Unless, you encounter unforeseen circumstances, like those who have trauma and any injury, or those diagnosed with mental disorders.
Therapeutic sessions will depend on each patient’s progress.
So there is no definite time frame on how many sessions each patient must attend.
Also, sometimes purchasing art materials is needed if you don’t have any art materials lying around at home.
However, some therapists might have materials available for lending during each session.
But if you can borrow from a friend who is willing to lend you his/her art supplies, that would be helpful.
Though for therapists, this profession is costly as well in terms of high investments.
Besides the materials they need to practice and study their profession, you need to invest a span of 2 to 10 years of education for a professional license.
Of course, this depends on the degree and specialty being aimed for by the aspiring therapist.
So, if you plan on building a career in art therapy, be sure you have the passion and motivation for it not to waste your time and effort.
These costs and investments are still worth it, especially if you reach your desired outcome.
Poor Job Growth (for Therapists)
Another disadvantage for therapists is poor job growth in this field.
Currently, there are some full-time art therapists present.
However, not a lot of people see the relevance of their profession.
So most full-time art therapists probably find other ways to earn a living.
Most likely, they try other jobs for added income but still related to their expertise.
For instance, becoming an educator as a professional therapist in academic institutions, providing other counseling services, or being a social worker to provide human services.
Compared to other specialties, art therapy still needs more convincing people to understand its effectiveness.
Since it is not yet highly in demand to be part of patient’s treatment plans, facilities rarely hire a professional in this specialty.
Even if that organization understands and supports the benefits of art therapy, management can’t keep paying for the therapist’s professional fee if they don’t have patients to treat.
Thus, resulting in unprogressive job growth as an art therapist.
Nowadays, mental health is being explored and researched efficiently, unlike before.
Some studies show relevant results with treatment plans involving visual arts as part of the therapeutic sessions.
So, there is still hope that this specialty will improve in the future concerning job opportunities.
Some areas are already aware of and promote the significance of art therapy, yet some areas still need to be educated about it.
But with the consciousness and open-mindedness of the youth that often affect the mindset of adults, we might see a turnaround for this field.
Ignorance of Art Therapy
As mentioned in the previous topic, only a few are knowledgeable about art therapy.
This is one of the disadvantages of art therapy.
Some populations find it hard to connect the importance of artwork to their problems, whether on a physical or psychological concern.
Most of those who do not see the importance are adults or those from earlier generations.
Since this field is new and is still in development alongside further studies on mental health, it explains why most skeptics are from earlier generations.
Also, most people still see art as a hobby or a talent rather than something that could be therapeutic.
As a result of their ignorance, patients or their support system might decline art therapy to be part of the treatment plan.
In addition, art therapists are misunderstood or set aside due to the lack of information on their specialty.
Others know nothing or little of what they do.
It could give an impression to an art therapist the feeling of being ignored or not valued in their specialty.
Because of ignorance, therapists may have emotional challenges about their career choice.
Yes, therapists also experience emotional challenges, the same as all humans can experience emotional challenges!
And if they are going through their problems, this is a hindrance to their job as art therapists.
Although this is not always the case, it is a possibility for beginners in the profession.
Ignorance of art therapy is a huge factor, which applies to other fields of expertise too.
Somehow, it is difficult to guide someone who doubts your skills and guidance.
Also, the treatment will not work if the method is unapproved by the patient concerned.
You Need a Proper Workspace
Some people can be flexible, but for crucial circumstances, a proper workspace is best for creative tasks.
The disadvantage to art therapy is you can’t experience its benefits if you don’t have a proper workspace where you can focus without distractions.
If art therapy focuses on visual arts, your workspace doesn’t have to be a huge room.
Your work table is enough.
You can place all your needed materials on your table, and everyone will know that the table should be hands-off to others.
Others might not have their own space for this kind of therapy.
Even if they try to be flexible using the dining table or the living room when no one is using it, what if someone also needs to use the dining table or the living room?
Eventually, you will be distracted, and the effectiveness of the therapeutic process might decrease.
Moreover, suppose you will consult a therapist.
In that case, there should be an area with privacy.
This is because your therapist will talk to you about thoughts, feelings, and other personal questions as part of the therapeutic session.
There might be interested people willing to try art therapy but discouraged due to not having a proper workspace (and probably other hindrances).
An appropriate setting might seem like a minor factor to some.
However, think of it like when you work or study for an exam.
It would help if you concentrated on certain things to be productive, which is best implemented when you have your own space.
What Can We Do to Improve Art Therapy?
There are several ways to improve art therapy, some of which include:
- Increasing access to art therapy by making it more widely available and affordable
- Providing more training and resources for art therapists to improve the quality of their practice
- Conducting more research on the effectiveness of art therapy to establish evidence-based guidelines for its use
- Incorporating new technologies such as virtual reality or teletherapy to reach more clients or to enhance the therapy experience
- Building stronger partnerships with other healthcare professionals to integrate art therapy into holistic treatment plans.
Now, do you think the disadvantages of art therapy are still worth your time and effort to try out art therapy?
Whichever decision you make, keep in mind that giving something and experiencing it yourself can still provide different insights.
It is better than just reading facts or asking others for opinions.
You do not have to fully commit to art therapy because some facilities or therapists might provide a trial session for you to have an idea of what to expect.
But with these pros and cons briefly explained, you should already set your expectations towards art therapy or any other related subject as mentioned.
It is lovely if you do things your way, but getting relevant insights from others and consulting with a professional is still best.
Did this article help you clear things out related to the disadvantages of art therapy?
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