Creative Therapy: Navigating a National Crisis
If you have kept up with recent studies on mental health, you have probably heard about the United States experiencing a national mental health crisis. According to Cohen Veterans Network (CVN), a national not-for-profit philanthropic organization, and National Council for Behavioral Health’s study on the subject, it has been “revealed [that] American mental health services are insufficient, and despite high demand, the root of the problem is lack of access – or the ability to find care” (thenationalcouncil.org par. 1).
That being said, it is natural to search for solutions, and even though these solutions most certainly are not the equivalent of professional help (and must not be considered such, especially in situations where someone’s life may be endangered), it is important to consider options for people who may seek therapy, but simply do not have it available to them. To this, I present the concept of creative therapy for those who are seeking help, and are currently unable to receive it.
But, before I introduce you to the concept of creative therapy, I ask that you take your situation into careful consideration, and do not consider this as a substitute for professional help, and seek professional help if you need it, especially if feel your life is in danger.
What is Creative Therapy?
Creative therapy according to Mind Disorders is defined as “techniques that can be used for self-expression and personal growth when the client is unable to participate in traditional ‘talk therapy,’ or when that approach has become ineffective” (minddisorders.com par. 1). To include some examples of creative therapy’ this would be activities such as drawing, painting, and modeling with clay, though they can extend to composition-based activities such as journaling, playing an instrument, even reading in some situations. The basis of a “creative therapy” activity lies in how it creatively engages a person.
Creative therapy has also been used on a professional level, especially among children in a practice known as play therapy. In this approach, psychologists use “a child's fantasies and the symbolic meanings of his or her play as a medium for understanding and communicating with the child” (minddisorders.com par. 8).
What are the Potential Risks?
It is only necessary to consider the potential risks of engaging in creative therapy since it is likely to expose its participants to intense emotional material or memories, before they had been dealt with on a professional level. This could lead to more serious, but rare, mental illness occurrences that may require hospitalization.
Though creative therapy is an enduring, often helpful therapeutic option for people to engage in, I fully encourage you to explore your options and decide for yourself what is the most appropriate approach to navigating your own struggles with your mental health. Take your time, maybe try multiple creative outlets to see what works for you, just make sure you are doing what feels right for you.