Recently, Attorney Judy Saltzman and I were admiring some of the creative artwork she has received over the years from her special education clients. Pictured to the left is one such piece from a four-year-old boy with Autism. This made me think of the importance of the arts in all of our lives, but especially for people with disabilities.
When many people think of art therapy, they envision participants painting and possibly sharing their thoughts and feelings in relation to their artwork, but it can be so much more than that. Art therapy also falls under the umbrella of expressive therapy, which encompasses a broader base of activities that allow participants to develop, heal, or communicate through creative expression. In addition to drawing and painting, expressive therapy can include dance, drama, music, writing, and horticulture. These activities are valuable not only for the end product, but also for the process by which they are created, as research suggests that it allows the two hemispheres of the brain to better communicate.
Expressive therapy is not exclusively for people with disabilities. Anyone can benefit from the experience as a stress reliever, to promote mental and physical health, or as a unique way to connect with other members in their community. Several local organizations offer expressive therapy options for the public, including Art Therapy Studio in Cleveland, The Fine Arts Association in Willoughby, and The Holden Arboretum in Kirtland. By participating in expressive therapy, you’ll not only have the opportunity to enhance your physical and emotional well-being, but you’ll also enjoy the creation of a unique masterpiece with a special meaning.