What is Art Therapy?
According to the American Art Therapy Association, “Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” – What is Art Therapy? – art-therapist.org
There is no single way to provide art therapy; as a result, it can look very different when practiced by and with different individuals. It can be free-flowing or structured, open-ended, or goal-oriented.
How Is Art Therapy Different From Art Classes?
Art therapy is a tool for helping people access their emotions as a form of mental health counseling. Emphasis is on the artmaking process instead of the product. By contrast, art classes are intended to provide students with instruction on how to achieve specific artistic effects or goals.
While art classes may be appropriate for those who enjoy art and want to improve their skills, they are not a substitute or the same as art therapy. Certified Art Therapists are credentialed by the American Art Therapy Association.
What is a Comfort Box?
A comfort box is a special container that holds a collection of items that help you during times of stress and difficult emotions. The goal of a comfort box is to help with our emotional regulation. It can hold items that remind you of important people or things, your favorite places or hobbies, and sentimental items.
How Do I Make a Comfort Box?
Choose a container that stands out to you. It can be as large as a storage container, or small enough to carry in your pocket. You can decorate the outside of the box, or choose to leave it plain.
What Do I put in My Comfort Box?
At least one item that will soothe each of your five senses: sight, scent, touch, taste, & sound. Include your favorite art material, affirmations or your favorite quotes, sentimental items from loved ones, and a list that includes healthy coping strategies that help you when you are dealing with stressful life situations or difficult emotions.
Using Our Senses for Our Comfort Box
A helpful way to get thinking about what to include in our comfort box is to use our five senses as a guide to help with our emotional regulation skills. Using one’s senses can bring about feelings of being present and feeling grounded. Here are some examples:
- Scent: candle, perfume, essential oil,
- Sight: pictures of loved ones or favorite place, motivational pictures, drawings
- Touch: stress balls, clay, silly putty, stones
- Sound: a mixtape CD, jingle bells, any items that make comforting sounds
- Taste: a favorite candy or gum, herbs, tea bags, coffee grounds
Mindfulness is one of the key reasons to have a comfort box. The goal of using these items in the box is to remind us to pay attention to our environment in order to remember to stay present.
Listen to certain sounds, observe the cause and effect relationship of what you do in your environment, observing certain smells. By utilizing our senses we can get back to a place of calm and peace.
Grounding Techniques with a Comfort Box
As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog the purpose of making a comfort box is to have something that we can refer back to during times of stress. One of the most important techniques for dealing with negative emotions can be to make sure that we are grounded.
Making notecards that can remind you of ways to practice feeling grounded can be a great tool for when we are having emotional responses to a situation. For example, you could use the notecards in your comfort box to remind you of your favorite grounding techniques such as breathing deeply, or the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. (5-4-3-2-1 Coping Technique for Anxiety – University of …https://www.urmc.rochester.edu › bhp-blog › april-2018).
These techniques work well especially during times of extreme anxiety or panic by helping us to feel grounded in the present and help our minds recalibrate instead of bouncing around from one disaster scenario to the next.
Want to Learn More?
If you find yourself struggling with chronic anxiety or other mental health issues we suggest that in addition to seeking out an art therapist please consider talking to professional counselors, social workers or other licensed professionals who may be able to help you further with other emotional regulation strategies.
To learn more about the amazing benefits of Art Therapy and how art therapy sessions can help you or your child check out our other blogs listed here:
Expressing Feelings Through Art Therapy
A Guide to Art Therapy
Art Therapy for Children with Autism