How Therapeutic Arts and Crafts Can Improve Mental Health

woman making arts and crafts

Aren’t we all just oddly satisfied when we take a look at the arts and crafts section of a bookstore for a reason we couldn’t really explain? The carefully crafted details we see in a stationary set, cardboard boxes, wooden decor, greeting cards, or decorative foam adhesive strips stimulate many positive feelings that relax our minds.

Art therapy is used to treat psychological disorders and enhance mental health. Craft therapy, meanwhile, is the use of hands-on hobbies and activities to gain mental health benefits. Art therapy and craft therapy have many similarities, such as being used in school, rehabilitation facilities, prison, and in-patient institutions. Craft therapy benefits may be reaped from art therapy, for instance, from fiber art. Art therapists may also use fiber art (knitting and embroidery) for their patients and they’ll get benefits that craft therapy also offers.

Arts and craft therapy are known to ease stress and improve mental health by instilling skill-based feelings of productivity and self-esteem. That said, how do they help in improving mental health and healing?

Art For Healing

Art therapy is a means of approaching mental health issues by utilizing the process of art creation to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellness. The goal of the therapy is to aid in self-expression and to find new ways of gaining personal insight and developing healthier coping habits by doing so.

Art therapy is a specific practice used at a range of professional settings. It is overseen by a professional who has expertise and experience in the field. Psychotherapeutic techniques are integrated into art therapy’s creative process to improve mental well-being.

The use of art for healing has been practiced for thousands of years. However, art therapy was only formalized during the mid-20th century. Art was explored as a healing strategy when doctors have noted that patients who have mental illnesses have expressed themselves often through drawings and other artworks. This led to art becoming a recognized form of therapy and having an important part in the therapeutic field.

Anyone is welcome to participate in art therapy. People aren’t required to have artistic skills and special talents firsthand. Additionally, those who wish to participate don’t have to be diagnosed with mental and/or physical illnesses. Art therapy gives a mental health boost that anyone can benefit from.

Drawing, painting, and sculpting are among the forms of art created with art therapy. Unlike art classes where it is focused on creating a specific finished product, in art therapy, therapists let their clients focus on their inner experiences through art creation.

Crafts For Developmental Skills

person cutting papersPeople who engage in crafts are shown to gain many psychological benefits as well. They reported having their cognitive abilities improved, as well as decreased stress levels and a sense of accomplishment.

Anorexia patients who were introduced to knitting as a form of craft reported that their anxieties related to their eating disorders were reduced. Knitting was also found to reduce work-related stress and compassion fatigue from oncology nurses.

For people who experience problems with social interactions, crafting is reported to have aided social anxieties because it draws away any unwanted attention from them. These feelings of being in control of their surroundings give them the opportunity to focus better, such as in their own process of making crafts.

Crafting is also shown to help people who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and other long-term health issues. In studies, patients of these illnesses reported an increase in self-esteem and engagement with the wider world. It has also heightened their personal sense of well-being and their motivation to live positively in spite of their condition.

Though both art therapy and craft therapy benefits are mostly accounted from self-reports and studies are inconclusive, it’s still enough to say that both are interesting and unique ways to boost mental health. Different healing strategies work for different people, and trying something calming such as therapeutic arts and crafts is a way to contribute to further research.

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