The “expressive arts” can be defined as “creative expression meets self-discovery and inner healing.” Expressive arts assist with psychological, physical and spiritual wellness for both children and adults. These arts include painting, drawing, sculpture, collage, digital art, photography, film, creative writing, story telling, role playing, journaling / diary, visual journaling, dance, movement, music (listening or creating), drama, mime, puppetry, doll making, jewelry making, weaving, woodworking, quilting and more. Whew! This is from an article on the healing nature of art for mental health issues in particular:
“Here’s an obvious observation: Doing art — whether music, painting, writing, dance, whatever — can contribute immeasurably to psychological well-being. I said that recently to a wonderful jazz musician I know, and he immediately responded, ‘Then why am I so screwed up?’ It was a good retort and I said so. He thought a second and then said, “But without music I’d be a lot more screwed up and would be missing the thing that gives me the most happiness in my life.
Clearly, art is not the source of the greatest happiness in everyone’s life, but it is a tremendous source of happiness for a great many people. And given the common belief that madness and creativity are linked, it is surely worth noting that whether or not mental illness contributes to art (I am doubtful), art certainly can contribute to [good] mental health.”
To read the rest of this article, go here. And, by the way, you do NOT have to be good at “the arts” for there to be clear benefits! Although there are therapists who specialize in art therapy, you don’t need to have a therapist or even to take a art class to benefit from creative outlets. Here’s a website with more information about healing activities that are centered around art. Here’s an interesting article by a teen, “Art, Music, and Writing – Therapy of the Future.” And, if you want a more academic perspective, here is an excellent TEDx talk by Cathy Malchiodi, “Art Therapy: Changing Lives, One Image at a time.”