Art therapy: can it help with depression?

Art therapist Nyrelle Bade tells us more about this alternative therapy

Art therapy is about connecting the whole body, art therapy embraces all the senses to move beyond the conscious thought to tap into our deepest desires in a safe and nurturing environment.

Art therapist Nyrelle Bade says many clients come to her after trying a range of therapies to rediscover or access their creativity in the hope it will alleviate unwanted mental and physical health symptoms. From those with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, post-natal depression or menopause to those experiencing relationship or parenting issues, Nyrelle says women most commonly seek her out and benefit greatly from arts therapy.

“Mostly what I see in my private practice is that women feel like something is missing,” says Nyrelle. “Like they’ve survived and coped, and they might also have health symptoms like gastro-intestinal stuff, mood swings, low immune systems, but there’s a general feeling of wanting more. Art therapy not only works on the body but it connects with people’s souls or their spiritual side and reveals what’s important to them.”

How it works
Sessions typically include some discussion with the therapist about a current issue you’re experiencing or a past experience that is difficult to move on from. From there, a variety of art forms are on offer, from visual arts including drawing, sculpting, painting and collages to an expressive art such as drama or storytelling.

Working richly with the five senses, the art allows the brain to arrive at a meditative state and be completely present, releasing the unconscious, which Nyrelle describes as ‘the language of dreams’.

Why it helps
“When you connect to your body through the sensory motor system, you also connect to your own innate wisdom,” Nyrelle explains. “From there, arts therapy can discharge any trauma we are holding onto in our nervous system and create new neural pathways.”

To find a local registered arts therapist visit the ACATA website.

NEXT: The magic of mantra music (kirtan) 

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