To understand how art is used in mental health, you will have to think of art as a constitutive subject, an essential element of interpersonal communication.
Art does not exist for the sake of its own existence, but for interpersonal communication. In art, both artist and observer are participants. Although it is the artist who originally imbues their work with meaning, it is the viewer who discovers his importance.
It is the viewer who must break the artist’s work down into its various parts, decipher its hidden code and piece that code together into a coherent sentence or paragraph, as art the reason for existing is specified.
Consciously and unconsciously, it is through art that those dealing with mental illness create insight into their existence.
It is through their art that the skilled art therapists are able to determine what the underlying problems are the root of a person’s mental illness. Thus; their art serves as an indicator/confirmation of the mental illness they may be suffering from due to certain mental illnesses ability to influence a person’s perception and expression.
Thus the art of a mentally ill person is able to be used as a roadmap to assist art therapists to determine the physiological and psycho-emotional issues must be addressed in order to return a person to wellness.
Most people dealing with mental illness experience some form of deterioration in their ability to intentionally communicate their instinctual desires through repressed thinking.
This is because people who suffer from mental illness may lack the ego integrity (strength of mind and connection with reality) necessary to censor and harnessing the energy of their instinctual desires (feelings and sensations) while transforming them into coherent thought / spoken concepts or ideas.
Artistic expression does, however, people have mental illnesses to express their instinctual desires in a constructive way without being forced to censor their thoughts, emotions or instincts in a non-restrictive pattern of expression.
This is important because the censoring can cause a person to shut down and become unable to communicate with others because of their frustration with being unable to communicate their ideas as soon as they arise
Thus, for those who are mentally ill, art or the act of art becomes a non-threatening means of communication for the mentally ill and their artistic observer/therapist.
This allows a mentally ill person to communicate freely without reservations and feel comfortable with expressing their mental landscape thoughts, feelings and dreams to the art therapist who interprets the meaning of these phenomena in a meaningful representation of their clients’ inner world;
This further assists the art therapist in determining underlying problems responsible for their clients’ situation and the issues that may agitate or prevents them from returning to health.
Thus, it is for the creation of art as a finished product, as an observer/art therapist becomes a participant in the client’s artistic process by trying to discover both its latent and manifest meaning.
It is through the joint participation of artist/client and observer/therapist, both of which are collected in developing its meaning. It is through this process that the artist/client is given value or validation of the participating observer/therapist and that both the process and the observer are internalized by the artist;
The client takes the therapist and their reaction to their art in itself and is either positively or negatively affected by it. Thus; the therapist’s reaction to their art will either help restore the client to health or delay it.
In short, a therapist reaction to their client’s art and their ability to praise and/or criticism appropriately will assist their client in developing insight, self-esteem, and connection to reality.
Without this interpersonal process between client and therapist, art itself possesses no innate value associated with a client’s recovery unless it is to release instinctual energy accumulated in the psyche of those who are mentally ill through various creative outlets that retail energize the unsatisfied instinctual impulses are responsible for stirring of a customer’s accompanying emotional states.
So the artist/client without the involvement of the process and observer/therapist, art and its creation lacks value and is discarded by the client.
Without process and observer becomes an expression of unfulfilled instinctual wishes that the artist wants to relieve, but unable to make it even more frustrated.
In short, without a voice and a listener who suffer from mental illness will be turned off by others and reality while experiencing frustration and anxiety. It is through art, his creative process and the presence of an interested observer, that this is prevented and remedied
Because art and creating art gains value through collective participation by both artist and observer.;
It is a constituent topic that is internalized by both artist and observer, and so has the power to heal through the internalization of process and observer.
It is this process that is invaluable for individuals dealing with mental illness and leads to healing much the same way as rationalized therapy, therapy in which disciplined rationale tanks are used, also known as talk therapy where the observer/therapist and client develop insight and alleviate customer concerns by developing cognitive-behavioral procedures that deal with the customer’s internalized conflicts or unanswered instinctual desires.
The difference is that through art and the process of art is an ability to create a public record of the psycho-emotional state, where both therapist and client engaged in during their time together. Thus; structured art therapy has the potential to help the mentally ill in returning wellness as it helps them to understand their underlying problems.