Community Blog

Art Therapy and Pain Management

By Vicki and Brian Day

The mind and the body are interconnected, making it important to look at both of them when seeking out treatments and management plans for chronic pain. For those elderly adults that struggle with chronic pain, they are more likely to develop depression and other mental health issues because of it. Art therapy is an effective way for seniors to focus on personal growth, self-expression and exploring the best ways to deal with their pain.

What is Art Therapy?

For decades, people have turned to art as a way to cope with some of the unpleasant things in life. Art therapy is a part of the mental health field where trained therapists help patients use different forms of art and the creative process to harness thoughts and feelings that need to be dealt with. The goal of art therapy is to enhance the lives of participants both physically and mentally. The participant doesn’t need to have any particular art skills to benefit from art therapy.

Art therapy can be used to help with depression, grief, anxiety, stress, and many other physical and mental issues. Many people find that art therapy can help them better than traditional therapy because there are some things that words can’t explain. With art therapy, patients put their emotions into a drawing or painting and start the healing processes from there.

Art therapy is different than a traditional art class for several reasons. The art therapist is a licensed and certified mental health professional that guides patients through specific exercises. The therapist will give some specific directions on different methods of creating art and work on communicating about their meaning and the elderly person’s insights. While traditional art classes can provide plenty of relaxation and calm, art therapy is a more intensive and structured way to go.

Art Therapy and Chronic Pain

When it comes to chronic pain, art therapy is beneficial for a number of reasons. Making art encourages activity when chronic pain may be a deterrent. Art therapy is also a way to keep depression at bay because of the good feelings and positive self-esteem that many people get when creating something artistic. Art therapy helps lower the heart rate and may interfere with the area of the brain that detects pain. Therefore, seniors with chronic pain that do art therapy are often better able to manage their pain.

Research shows that one way to manage chronic pain is to divert the amount of attention it receives from the brain. With a focus on making art, the brain has less demand on it from the senses to register pain. A senior with chronic pain may experience the sensation of reduced feelings of pain when they are focused on their projects.

How Home Care Can Help

Home care providers can offer assistance in many aspects of art therapy, from transportation to various arts activities to spending time creating art at home with seniors. In addition to help with art therapy, senior care providers assist with the tasks of daily living, such as healthy meal preparation, light cleaning, ambulatory assistance and more.