A psychological disorder may exist when a pattern of behaviors or symptoms causes significant stress or impact an individual’s ability to function in more than one domain of life such as school, work or relationships.
Psychological disorders are diagnosed by a licensed therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist after careful assessment. Some conditions are more severe, while others cause symptoms which can be reduced in a shorter period of time. Psychological Disorders can be caused by a variety of life circumstances including traumatic events, illness, loss of a loved one or even genetic factors. Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, and Personality Disorders are common categories used to classify these mental health conditions. When emotions and behaviors become difficult to control, one may begin to feel isolated or ashamed. It is important to remember you are not alone. Taking care of yourself emotionally is equally as important as maintaining your physical health. Failure to address feelings of stress and anxiety can cause medical complications such as excessive weight gain, heart disease and a weakened immune system.
Creative arts therapists work with clients experiencing symptoms related to any of the above mental disorders. The therapist will tailor treatment planning according to individual goals established in collaboration with the client and other treating clinicians such as the client’s psychiatrist or case manager. The creative arts therapist will use tools from the arts modality (art, music, dance or drama) to help clients achieve progress toward the established goals of treatment.
With the support of these expressive tools and the guidance of the creative arts therapist, the client may use the art form to reintegrate parts of the self which have become disconnected from the whole. Clients may use the creative arts to express concerning emotions, perceptions or irrational thoughts through a medium other than words. Words can fail to accurately represent the irrational because they are created by the rational brain. This process brings abstractions to form, creating opportunities to interact with heightened emotions or perceptions as pieces of music, stories, physical movement or as visual images.
Through creative arts therapy’s active and multi-sensory interface between the client and his/her patterns of thinking, feeling and/or behaving, the client may achieve greater insight into the pathological or disordered thoughts, feelings or behaviors. In action-oriented therapies like the creative arts, clients are afforded opportunities to rehearse the management of symptoms and to practice healthful behaviors rather than simply discussing them. The overall aim of therapy, creative arts or otherwise, in the treatment of mental disorders is to manage symptoms and behavior in order to improve functioning.