Today I had the incredible opportunity of facilitating an arts-based wellness workshop for the Education department at the Whitney Museum of American Art. As we creatively explored the behavioral, physical, and professional hazards of chronic stress, themes of playfulness, nature, and connection to others emerged during the writing and art-making components. Pablo Picasso said it best: “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
The use of art as therapy has countless benefits for one's overall well-being. Creating “art for art’s sake” is an exercise of self-care that can cultivate self-compassion and aid in healing. Art making in a safe space can provide a non-threatening way to access feelings that may otherwise be too overwhelming to name through language alone. The organizing, containing, and stress-reducing effects of art making can alleviate free-floating anxiety and build self-esteem through helping one to develop a sense of mastery over the successful completion of an art project that is within one’s control. Feelings of self-worth are also cultivated through challenging oneself to learn new and take healthy creative risks. Feelings of hopelessness and depression are countered with opportunities to “produce” something of personal value.
Creative problem solving is encouraged through artmaking and the use of unfamiliar art media, as well as reframing perspective when observing the art product, which helps foster a more positive outlook; this is a key component of creative resilience.
In a group context, the relational component of having another person witness a creative process or product can reduce feelings of isolation, foster connection, and help one feel seen and validated. From a humanistic perspective, a new social identity as “Artist” can be fostered as opposed to more fixed roles which alleviates the effect of role fatigue that is so common when experiencing burnout syndrome. #artastherapy #wellnessworkshop #burnoutprevention #stress #artheals #creativeresilience
Post and artwork by Sharon Itkoff Nacache ATR-BC LCAT LPAT PMH-C