grief therapy

Art Therapy: Loss, Grief, and Transformation

The experience of grief is unique to each individual. Your journey within its five stages will differ from another. The things that could comfort you may not comfort others. Art therapy and grief therapy can both be a healing experience to help you healthily express your struggle.

You can create your own art through guided sessions or connect with support groups who find comfort in the same things you do.

Healing through art can also be a self-initiated venture. You can have a professional artist can paint a picture of your deceased loved one, or you can listen to classical music in your room or attend a concert.

On the other hand, for people feeling like they don’t know where or how to start, attending grief therapy or grief counseling sessions can help.

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy used to treat people with mental health struggles and psychological disorders. It sprang to popularity in the 1940s and is based on the idea that artistic expression helps speed up recovery and foster a positive mental outlook.

When mental health professionals discovered that persons with mental illness were able to communicate through drawings and other types of artwork, the concept became a reality. As a result, the idea of using art as a therapeutic activity was examined, and ever since, it has played a crucial role in the field of psychiatric health.

In art therapy, a person expresses himself freely through creative activities such as painting, dancing, and clay modeling. When used in the grieving process, one can release his pain through colors or the act of creating something personal.

Some of the art activities you can try to establish healthy coping mechanisms to manage grief are:

  • Finger painting on canvas
  • Painting on paper, canvas, or wall
  • Scrapbook or photo collage
  • Drawing with crayons or pencil
  • Interior decoration
  • Getting a tattoo
  • Wood carving
  • Weaving
  • Dancing
  • Writing a song
  • Music and dance
  • Creating a playlist
  • Journaling to release negative emotions

If you experience trouble sleeping, depressive symptoms, deep sadness, and prefer to heal through a structured approach, the following have been proven helpful in the grief process:

  • Play therapy
  • Bereavement counseling
  • Commitment therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Support group therapy appointments

Scientific Literature on Art and Grief Therapy

The focus on the importance of mental health has increased during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us experienced pandemic-related loss, be it a death of a loved one or a significant loss in life.

Experts have recommended multiple outlets we can try to maintain healthy minds and bodies. One is online art therapy, which is a type of telehealth service.

Recent studies made by Brenna Cole of Lesley University, have shown that the online art treatment approach has been helpful in coping with loss and improving a sense of well-being—especially among adolescents.

This type of psychotherapy has been used in both group and individual settings, and has utilized storytelling, drawing, writing, commemorating, and ritualizing to establish healthy coping skills—for intense sadness and identify negative thought patterns.

Dealing with Major Life Changes and Negative Thought Patterns Through Art

In addition to helping people deal with loss, art therapy can also help those suffering from trauma, depression, autism, and dementia. It can also help people facing alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, and eating disorders.

And even those simply looking to de-stress from work and everyday life, resolve internal conflict, improve mental state or social skills, and regulate emotions can benefit from attending art and talk therapy sessions.

We offer both in-clinic and telehealth therapy sessions. We cater to clients struggling to cope with the different types of grief like complicated grief, chronic grief, debilitating grief, traumatic grief, and prolonged grief through cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of psychotherapy.You can book an appointment with our marriage and family therapists and clinical psychologists to kickstart your healing process through art therapy or grief therapy. Email us at [email protected] or contact us at 714-334-5497 at Keil Psych Group today!

Dr. Mitch Keil
Dr. Mitch Keil

Dr. Mitch Keil is a licensed clinical psychologist in Newport Beach, CA. His specialities in treatment cover a wide range of difficulties including depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD, and grief/loss for teens, young adults, and adults. As a part of his dedication to the field, Dr. Keil receives regular supervision, support, continuing education, and training for his private practice. He is a lifelong learner and practitioner who is passionate about mental health, philosophy, and psychology.

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