Many of us creative types can feel like our creativity is being tamped down by therapy or medication. However, for many of us dealing with mental health issues these can be necessary parts of treatment. So we find ourselves in a predicament. Want want to get help with whatever we are struggling with, but we don’t want to lose our creativity. Luckily, modern mental health treatment is starting to realize what many of us already intuitively know. There are therapeutic techniques that embrace creativity rather than rejecting it!
Art Therapy for Substance Abuse
Recently researchers have been looking at treatment programs for polysubstance abuse to see what kind of therapies they offer. One study recently found that over 36% of the places they evaluated offered art therapy. This can be a huge comfort for creative people who are seeking addiction treatment. Knowing that your treatment involves the outlets that already make you feel good, can help you use the coping skills you already have.
Music Therapy for Depression
I have met many people who say that music helps them cope with mental health symptoms. Now there is research to back up that claim. A study published in 2008 evaluated the results from five previous studies about depression. The preliminary findings were that music therapy helped people with depression and produced a more elevated mood than control treatments. This provides scientific evidence for what many people already intuitively knew, music can help you feel better.
Expressive Writing for people with Terminal Illnesses
Creative or expressive writing can be a great way to sort through feelings while creating something beautiful. For many years therapists have used writing as a therapeutic tool. However, it was often structured rather than creative. But, recently expressive and creative writing has been getting more attention as a valuable therapeutic tool. In fact, the APA sites a study that found writing about emotions and stress could boost immune function in people with HIV. This means writing could be not only a powerful therapeutic tool but also a medical treatment.
Equine Therapy for PTSD
People with PTSD have to cope with a whole host of symptoms every day. Often they struggle with feeling out of control or triggered by events around them. So, it might seem paradoxical to put people with PTSD around large animals. However, the research and antidotal evidence show that connecting with an horse in equine therapy can be incredibly helpful. Especially if you are someone who already loves animals this can be the perfect treatment.
Singing for Speech Problems
It might sound anxiety producing to sing if you already have speech problems. But for many people singing can actually help them speak more fluently. A case study of someone with severe nonfluent aphasia found that singing helped them form words again. Aphasia is not what we think of as a normative or developmental speech problem. It is associated with brain damage and is often the result of a stroke or other brain injury. In other words it is a severe mechanical issue with the brain. So it is incredible to find out that singing might actually help with speech fluency.
Play Therapy for Children
Some of the most creative people are young people. There is something about the young mind that is still filled with curiosity, possibilities, and wonder. So it is no surprise that play has been used to as a therapy for children for decades now. Recently, researchers have wanted to evaluate how effective this kind of therapy is for kids. A meta-analysis of over 90 studies found that play therapy was an effective intervention for kids. They also found that it was the most effective when parents were involved.
Bibliotherapy for Children with Emotional Disturbances
Some kids struggle with different emotional disturbances. These might include issues ranging from anxiety to conduct disorder. Children struggling with these types of issues might be helped by an age old form of creativity, reading! Bibliotherapy is a type of therapy where the client reads books about what they are struggling with. It can help people to feel less alone and connect with the coping mechanisms used by characters in the book. Dominican University conducted a study to see if this was an effective treatment for kids with emotional disturbances. Results revealed that it had a positive effect for the children they studied.
If you are someone who is creative you might be afraid to seek mental health treatment. The medical world has had a history of marginalizing people with creative minds or seeking to make them more “normal”. However, modern psychologists are realizing that there are ways to use this very creativity as a type of treatment.