HomeLifestyleSeeking calm and self-expression through art therapy - UnlistedNews

Seeking calm and self-expression through art therapy – UnlistedNews

Have you ever scooped clay, squeezed it into a cup, or pinched it into a pot? If you haven’t, then you are missing out on the most beautiful experience,” says Sanjay Talwar, 51, a ceramics teacher at Kalasthali art and craft, a fine arts school in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj. A ceramics teacher for nearly a decade, Talwar believes in the healing power of ceramics. “Stress is part of our life. I see children as young as seven and eight years old feeling anxious and stressed. While we talk openly about physical pain, we don’t do the same when it comes to mental health,” says Talwars, who believes pottery engages all five tatwas (elements): earth, fire, water, air and sky, and when people practice pottery, they find balance in life.

When Aparna Choudhrie was introduced to ceramics, she was a corporate employee. Little did she know that she would one day open her own ceramics space and become an art therapist. “I started The Clay Company in 2012. She had worked for more than 15 years with multinational companies, including GenPact and Infosys. The hectic schedule made me anxious and stressed. I found the pottery immensely therapeutic and meditative,” says Choudhrie. She believes that when you create something with your own hands, it feels rewarding and peaceful. “Clay is a natural component of the universe and making art with clay rejuvenates you,” she adds.

Art therapy is a multidimensional approach to addressing an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Although Choudhrie and Talwar are not therapists, they do understand the dilemma people face when prioritizing their mental health. They are also aware that going to a therapist is not an easy choice for many people in India.

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“Mental illness begins with something as basic as an individual’s inability to express themselves. And it can show up in signs we tend to miss, like why a person is anxious before a meeting, hesitant to make eye contact during a conversation, or suddenly started avoiding physical meetings. But the word therapy itself carries a lot of discomfort, and people tend to avoid seeking help. So as an art therapist, my goal is to do two things: make art accessible to everyone and at the same time make people express their emotions,” says Talwar.

Hong Kong-based art psychotherapist Joshua KM Nan conducted a study in 2016 to see the impact of Clay Art Therapy (CAT). The study was carried out together with Rainbow TH Ho, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong. His findings, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in April 2017, suggested that creating objects out of clay may help adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) improve mood, decision-making, and motivation.

Art therapy is a versatile and flexible approach that can be adapted to various populations and settings. It can be used in individual therapy, in group settings, and even in community programs. Through its unique combination of creativity, self-expression, and therapeutic support, art therapy can be a powerful tool in helping people deal with stress, trauma, and various mental health challenges, fostering personal growth, healing and emotional well-being.

“As a therapist I use many modalities and art therapy is one of them, but sometimes it amazes me how people express themselves better through art than by talking. Various art modalities such as painting, drawing, sculpture and collage-making are used to promote healing, self-expression and personal growth,” shares Gurugram-based mental health therapist Arouba Kabir. According to Kabir, the benefits of art therapy are multiple. “In addition to giving us an avenue to express ourselves nonverbally, the art-making process gives us a sense of control and agency over our creative process. This can be especially empowering for people who may feel overwhelmed or powerless in other aspects of their lives,” says Kabir.

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Taking an honest look at ourselves requires courage, believes Gunjan Adya, a UNESCO-CID and Fortis-certified artist and therapist of expressive arts and movement. “Using different modalities like music, movement, writing, and of course the visual arts, I try to help people improve their self-expression,” he explains. Adya runs an initiative called Tula Journey where he offers a safe space for people to come together and reflect on their choices and see if they align with their life purpose. “I have observed that the art that people create in my workshops allows them to tune into their mind, body and soul. Throughout the 2-hour workshop, people dive deep into their subconscious, analyzing the memories and emotions associated with them that are hidden in the nooks and crannies of their mind and heart,” says Adya.

Art therapy is quite effective in relieving PTSD, childhood trauma, chronic illness and disability, and during difficult life transitions. While creating art is effective, Dr. Charan Teja Koganti, a consultant psychiatrist at KIMS Hospital says that simply looking at art can also be relaxing. “Research has shown that if you don’t want to get involved in making art, watching someone make art or visiting an art exhibit and seeing the artwork on display can ease anxiety and calm your brain. You can activate the parts of your brain that process emotions. It also helps patients regain their sense of freedom and control, especially when everything in life seems out of control,” says Dr. Koganti.

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Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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