Creative therapy gets to the roots of all ills!
Patients discover the transformative benefits of creativity at arts therapy session. If mainstream medicine is unable to remedy a patient’s ills, then a cornucopia of alternative therapies are available for those in need. One such option, which is becoming increasingly popular around the world and in Taiwan, is expressive arts therapy.
Already popular in the United States, the program was used to help child survivors of Hurricane Katrina overcome mental traumas. It has also been employed in the treatment of combat veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorders in the United Kingdom. Britain’s award-winning actor, Sir Antony Sher, publicly credited the therapy, which he first experienced 10 years ago while being treated for cocaine dependency, with helping him to be free of the drug.
According to Hung Chin-lee, director of the Expressive Arts Therapy Center of Taiwan Adventist Hospital, the scheme first emerged in Taiwan about 15 years ago. “At the time, few people understood what the therapy was and the transformative benefits of creativity,” she said. “I believe that people can be healed by using their imagination and applying the various forms of creative expressions. Emphasis is placed on the process, rather than the final product, which is why the therapy differs from normal artistic creation.”
With more and more people beginning to understand the program’s philosophy, Hung–a music therapist–recognized the treatment’s potential, and in 2004, founded the only facility in Asia that offers integrated art therapies, including music, art, drama and dance.
As Hung foresaw, the number of patients seeking treatment increased rapidly. “Since establishing the center, we have had about 30,000 visits in three years, and an average of 700 children come to the center each month,” she pointed out. “Our staff has also grown from six to 12 this year.”
Chou I-chun, an art therapist at the center, said that although people of all ages are suitable for treatment, most of those who use the program are children. “Many of our child patients suffer from illnesses such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” she said. “Others also display symptoms of emotional disorders or delayed development.”
But with more people discovering the therapy’s healing power, the possible applications of the treatment have broadened. “Nowadays some parents bring their kids to the center as a way of helping them to explore themselves, or to learn how to deal with emotions,” Chou said. “Therapists can help parents understand the hidden motives of a child’s seemingly unreasonable behavior and learn to appreciate the way their children are.”
There are also adults seeking help from the center, but they are still in the minority. “In today’s society, adults are reluctant to love themselves, usually more willing to offer their children such treatment,” Chou continued. “But the number of adults we are seeing has risen gradually since last year.”