The miracles of “Art Therapy”

 

Psychology is one of my most favorite areas of interest and I often research about the different advancements in this field and explore them in depth. In the last few years, I have come across the term “Art Therapy” quite a lot of times and it truly intrigued me and thus, I plunged into this topic. After studying about it from various sources, I came to the conclusion that this therapy is extremely fascinating and beautiful in its essence. I believe, as more than half of us are suffering from varying forms of depression (whether we admit it or not) and are surrounded by paranoia and chaos, this therapy might help us on a whole new level. It is a promising area and from my point of view, needs to be expansively familiarized.

Introduction to Art Therapy:

Art Therapy, as the name suggests, is a form of therapy to deal with mental stresses, overcome the communication struggles and plays a vital role in self-analysis, which in other words, is also known as introspection. It helps people contemplate over their own selves, their personalities and helps in figuring out who they really are. This therapy makes use of colors and artistic techniques to counter these issues, which most of the times, act as a barrier in the flow of our daily life.

Origination of Art Therapy:

According to “About Health” Art Therapy is being used since thousands of years in multiple ways. People have often used arts to heal their patients. But it actually formulated as a form of therapy in mid of 20th century. Doctors instilled the idea of being creative in their patient’s mind, who was suffering from some sort of mental disorder, and they observed a positive change in them. This encouragement has now led to a complete branch of arts and psychology which is now being practiced all over the world and has changed the lives of thousands of people.

Benefits of Art Therapy:

According to Art Therapy Blog, the benefits are not only bound to people who are exceptionally creative with paper, brushes and colors. Such is the beauty of this therapy that you don’t necessarily have to be a talented artist. You use your own imagination and simply let it flow. You decipher the underlying meaning behind your piece of art; you try to understand your imagination and creativity and thus heal your soul. It works wonders in treating the patients undergoing counseling, rehabilitation and psychotherapy.

For a normal human being, who has fortunately no serious mental disorders, this therapy is a great way of self-exploration. It gives you an insight into your own personality (this is an entirely different topic and it would take ages but we still won’t completely cover it). It improves the mental health and colors plays an intriguing role in emotional uplifting and understanding of personality (color psychology is yet another branch). Art Therapy can be done in the form of a group and it opens new channels of friendly communication with fellow human beings.

For people with severe mental disorders, like schizophrenia or depression due to emotional abuse, a serious disease or PTSD, also immensely benefit from this form of therapy. They actually feel a control over their temperaments; their stress and tension vanishes and after playing around with colors, they feel lightened and their anxiety decreases significantly. Art Therapy has also helped numerous serious cases of bipolar and these people experience an effective result when they perform Art Therapy activities.

As stated by American Art Therapy Association, this form of therapy plays a vital role in building up problem solving skills and increasing the confidence level. It awakens the self-esteem of a person and indulges them into self-awareness. It helps a person develop both phsycially and mentally, by using their imagination and working on their creativity. It opens new channels of exploring interpersonal skills and polishing them.

Art Therapy in the West:

art therapy 3
Yahowto

Compared to the East, the West is taking Art Therapy very seriously. There are various research institutes who are working endlessly to instigate the importance of Art Therapy among common people. To get this knowledge in the hands of a random person browsing through the internet from one corner of the world, special Art Therapy blogs are updated daily and they give creative ideas for experiencing the miracles of Art Therapy within your own home and at your own ease.

Plenty of institutes have started certified programs regarding Art Therapy and many universities are providing graduate and post-graduate programs in this field. Following are some institutes working ardently for the promotion of Art Therapy:

  • Western Sydney University: They are offering Masters in Art Therapy (post grad program) which teaches various visual art forms for therapeutic purposes.
  • University of Central Lancashire (North West England): They are offering MA in Arts along with a Diploma and a Certificate program.
  • University of Chester (North West England): Similarly, this university offers MA in Arts Therapy along with a Diploma and a Certificate program.
  • Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, California): This university offers Masters in Arts with specialization in Art Therapy.
  • West Liberty University (West Virginia): WLU offers a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Art Therapy. Their whole program is carefully structured keeping in mind the importance of Art Therapy in the future of medical sciences.

Art Therapy in Pakistan:

art therapy 2
Pakart

Unfortunately, like every other sub-field of psychology, Pakistan lags behind in Art Therapy education and recognition. Although people residing in principle cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad etc are becoming more aware about Art Therapy, there is still a major lack of coverage in this regard. Following are few pakistani universities and organizations where Art Therapy is being endorsed and encouraged:

  • In Punjab University Department of Gender Studies, an informative lecture was organized on the topic of Drama and Art Therapy. The lecture was delivered by Asim Amjad who is an accomplished Art Therapist himself.
  • Art Therapy and Mental Health organization: This is an NGO, run by the aforementioned, Asim Amjad. They are striving hard to promote Art Therapy in Pakistan. This is a fabulous venture with amazing artwork on display.
  • Universal Women Children Art Therapy Association (UWCATA) & Pakistan Bai-ul-Maal (PBM) arranged a joint Art Therapy Workshop under the guidance of Samina Jamshed, for 3000 orphan kids of Pakistan Sweet Homes. The money generated from the exhibition of the artwork by these kids, went to each of the young artists who drew it.
  • Samina Jamshed was also the conductor of an Art Therapy Workshop for 70 school teachers of Convent institutes. They were lectured on tips and techniques to help the kids overcome their shyness and to bring out their inner creativity with the help of colors and art.
  • Ufaq Ehsan is a graduate of NCA, Lahore. She has been working as an Art Therapist for more than a decade now. She has organized various workshops in Pakistan, like Falah Foundation Art Therapy workshop (2005), Aman ka Rasta Art Workshop (2010) and has worked as an Art Therapist in various schools and hospitals of Lahore.
  • For people living in Karachi, T2F needs no introduction. They have also arranged workshops and artistic activities for children to introduce them to Art Therapy miracles. Creative Reflections: An Introduction to Art Therapy was one such workshop which was facilitated by Shazia Mohamad who is an Art Therapy graduate.

Future of Art Therapy in Pakistan:

Art Therapy is meant to stabilize the depressed minds. In the West, significant amount of people have gained knowledge about this particular therapy and are greatly benefitting from it. However, in Pakistan, people consider psychology itself, a taboo area of specialization. This issue should be seriously discussed on educational platforms. Also, mental disorders are increasing day by day, especially due to the sudden unfortunate events that happen in our country. Children and adults alike, are suffering terribly and they miserably go through these ordeals without expressing their troubles. Frequent Art Therapy Workshops and seminars will prove to be a positive action to fight off this negative energy. Similarly, like the West, our universities should start graduate or post-graduate programs in Art Therapy. Or simply, for starters, they should introduce certificate programs. People with an avid interest in arts should be urged to come forward, cooperate in building up a beneficial Art Therapy future in Pakistan and fully endorse its colorful miracles.

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Featured image:charterforcompassion.org.pk

 

 

 

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War of depression

More than half of the population nowadays is suffering from the terrible mental ordeal called “depression.” According to science, depression is a product of stress and anxiety. It gives rise to various kinds of personality disorders. It changes the thinking of a human being. The power of depression makes it even more perilous than a common person can imagine. It physically changes the size of the brain. How dangerous this depression is!

Depression is like a monster that awakens within you at the oddest of times, when you least expect it to. It is a sadness that weighs you down. It is a feeling that temporarily but frequently darkens your world. You would want to enjoy a certain moment along with others, but this depression will make sure you do not enjoy it at all. This feeling makes it seem almost impossible for a person to live their life like they want to. It attacks a person in the most monstrous of ways. It makes you loathe, it makes you hate, it makes you force a smile you don’t want to show, it makes you cry at the weirdest of times, it makes you envy the successful and happy people and it makes you totally different from others.

The number of people prone to depression is constantly on the rise. There are a lot of reasons behind this gradual increase. Depression is not restricted to any age or race. It is a disease that can attack anyone; from the beggar sitting at the side of the road to the model posing for Vogue. What makes a person depressed? Sometimes it has something to do with material issues, like lack of money, or failing business. Or it may have something to do with a childhood or family trauma, loss of a loved one etc. Whatever the reason, the effects of depression can be irreparable at times.

Depression is a strong force that most often, drives you towards negativity, even suicide. But it is possible to fight it off and ultimately repel its attack. It won’t go away, but you can decrease its power and control over you. Each and every human being who suffers from depression carries this opposing power within them. But not everyone is fortunate enough to realize that they too, hold the strength to stand up to this dejected feeling. Most people feel that this depression would never let them function like a proper or normal human anymore. They feel that with the advent of this lingering melancholia in their soul, there is no glow of happiness left for them to experience. I say different.

The only enemy of depression is a genuine happy moment which is very obvious, so to speak. But how to find happiness when you can’t see happiness surrounding you anywhere? Happiness is not a huge mansion that you would suddenly catch gleaming under the morning sky. It is actually, the faint glow of light at the end of a pitch dark tunnel that you have been exploring since days. That faint glow is ephemeral though. As soon as you reach it, move out into it, it will vanish. But, it will open a new door for you, a new area to observe. It shows you a different path and it is a guiding luminescence. Such is the power of happiness! But what do half of the people suffering from depression perceive it as? They become seized by the sudden absence of the faint glow. They become so absorbed in that light that they don’t bother to see what it illuminated for them.

To fight the depression, surround yourself with what makes you smile. What is that activity that makes you forget what you are sad about? Is it arts? Is it music? Is it cooking or gardening? Is it simply reading books or magazines? Whatever it is, make the most out of this distraction. Turn that depressive feeling into a productive strength. Work on your skills whenever you feel a powerful emotion. Work on yourself, on your personality. Immerse yourself into something that would eventually fade depression into nothingness and blow it into that abyss you fear so much.

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Image credit: cce-wakata.blogspot.com

Can’t handle kids? Don’t make one!

A good and keen observation can take you a long way and teach you things nobody would ever bother to tell you.
Kids are very observant. But of course, they observe only what they like to observe. For example, they’ll observe a cartoon series and maybe, try to implement in on themselves or others around them. Or, they’ll observe their family issues and try to figure out why their family is always so tensed up. At these moments, their mind works furiously over these questions and new queries keep popping up. They want to find answers but how, that’s the real question.
Kids are fascinating and I’ve always loved those kids who have loads of things to discuss, are jolly and are always questioning. True, sometimes people get irritated but they make the mistake of displaying their irritation on their face or verbally expressing it. Which obviously, starts turning the child’s thinking processes to find other ways to search for their answers.
This, of course, is a big question mark on the ability of the parents. It is their responsibility to quench their thirst. Not every question has to be answered but it’s very easy to feed them something else of their interest and satisfy them. Only the clever and good parents know how to handle their child and what answers to give him/her. Sad to say, it’s pretty rare.
I don’t understand sometimes, why some parents even bother to burden themselves with a child (or more) when they don’t even know how to raise them up. They don’t realize how much harmful that is for the society on the whole and even for their own reputation. Blaming the child is easy for your mistakes but you can’t fool the society and the good people out there. Their harshness at home with their kid, can lead to dangerous molding of his/her thoughts into something that’s full of hate and detest for parents or adults, on the whole and it is an alarming situation. So if someone isn’t ready to bear a child’s antics and the way his/her mind works, they shouldn’t even bring them in this world. Because one way or another, this is, ultimate cruelty.

3 questions do the trick, to know them real quick!

three

The tips and tricks of playing with mind are a part of psychological studies. But what I believe is, that no matter which field you belong to, either you’re a doctor, or an engineer or some artist, you should be aware of these tricks and apply them in your daily routines. They’ll make your life a little easier, if not entirely, and can help you achieve your targets with better results.

Over the time, I have met new people via internet or in real life and you must’ve too. The first word that pops up in your mind, whenever you meet a new person, is stranger. And living in this cursed & cruel society, it is obviously a hugely important task to determine if a person is worth trusting or not and whether you should make further interactions with them in future, or not. Well of course, people can be great at hiding their true selves, but there are some trick questions that can give you a pretty good insight about a personality and can show you a rough outline of their minds and hearts.

Before I tell you those questions, I want you to understand that I give you no 100% guarantees that whatever they answer can give you a vague image of that person because, it obviously depends on your psychological interpretations too. Secondly, I came up with these questions when once, a friend asked me what would be those three questions I’d ask someone to make a rough sketch in my mind about his/her personality. I thought about it for a few minutes, I asked those questions and I used them over the time and I’ve certainly found it easy to understand people after that.

Q1: Who are you closest to, the most, in your life and why?

A very basic question, which can give you a clear picture about their family background. The most acceptable answers would be father, mother, siblings, or even grandparents. But if a person says they’re close to some uncle/aunt or a childhood friend, then this can arise a few questions. It means they weren’t close to their family and those who aren’t close to their family have a disturbed mind because they face a tough time at home. You’re also asking them “why”, which they might or might not answer. Either way, you’ll get to know that they have a rough family history. You’d have to be a bit cautious with such people. They might be aggressive or easily offended, sensitive, hardworking and many a times, they are independent.

Q2: Do you have any regrets? If yes, what are they and how’d you rectify them?

This may seem like a personal opinion, but I believe each and every one of us has some regrets in our lives. It can be something as tiny as spending our savings on a crappy guitar or  something as grave and serious as choosing the wrong life-partner. Anyway, this question gives you a vague idea about their darkest secrets. They might regret the career they’ve chosen, or they might regret not ditching the person who gave them a hard time. The next question, how they’d rectify their mistake, gives you a clear picture of how they’d cope with difficulty, their problem solving skills, or their power to face hard-ships or finding solutions. They might just shrug and say never thought about it, which might raise new questions.

Q3: Love or money?

The most easiest way to learn if a person is your type or not. If you’re romantic, or you value friendships, relationships or any sort of acquaintanceship more than money, then you’d better talk to those who choose love. Because they’d have more in common with your personality. Such people are highly sensitive, love hungry, emotional, they might be courageous or they might be very fragile, they’ll usually be the people you can easily trust. And if they choose money, you might find them a bit intimidating, determined, materialistic, goal oriented, strategic, power hungry and they’ll seldom value emotions.

If you find these questions useful, do try them out, the next time you meet someone new. They might be great ice-breakers or help you break down iron walls guarding a person. Heh. And let me know what your views are. Cheers! 🙂

P.S: Be careful who you are asking these questions from. Sometimes, people might find it offending that you’re asking them personal questions. So make sure they are easy about it. If not, try to take them in your confidence first.

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Image credits: http://s3.amazonaws.com/kajabi-media/assets/projects/31135/assets_bag/original/QuestionMarks.jpg?1422931310

Yearning for ecstasy (Part 2)

NOTE

Part 2 is here! Feedback means a lot, honestly. I would love to know your views about this story. I am trying my best to sketch the picture of a typical Pakistani family, with my words. Please do read it till the end (the last three paragraphs contain words which I was dying to share in some way). Image credits have been mentioned in the end. Cheers!

***

fam

I walked to where they were all sitting, at a very slow pace. I sat at a lone chair, with the unknown family at my right and my own at the left. So every eye was on me now, naturally. Very comfortable. My mom was the first to break the awkward silence. “This is Maria, my daughter and Maria, they are our new neighbors. This is Arham,” she gestured towards the boy, “and they are Mr. & Mrs. Naveed.” “Hey everyone.” I suck at greetings. “So Mrs. Farhan left?” She was our old neighbor and honestly, she was a nightmare. I posed this question at mom. “Yeah.” She raised her eyebrows. Okay, no more questions, got the hint. “Your mom tells me you’re a…psychologist.” The pause was so pronounced, I actually thought Mrs. Naveed was struggling to say it in the most respectable manner. “Yes.” “It must be a tough job.” Mr. Naveed made an assumption, chewing a biscuit he had just picked up. I noticed my mom had put my favorite ones in front of these unknown guests. God. “Not much, I enjoy it.” I could actually hear what was going through their minds at the moment. It was evident from their expressions that Mr. & Mrs. Naveed were dying to say “WHAT THE HELL?!” “You enjoy being a psychologist?” Okay, I had totally forgotten about Arham. I glanced at him. His eyes were brown, wheatish skin tone and dark brown hair, totally messed up. And there was something else. A playful smile on his lips and curiosity, which he was trying so hard to hide through that smile, shining in his eyes. “Yeah I do.” I stood up. “I’ve got to do some work, so please excuse me now.” I hope I didn’t sound too rude. “And welcome to the neighborhood.” I added with a smile, looking at Mr. & Mrs. Naveed. I presumed that they were actually the ones who needed to be convinced that we were not a freaky family, after all & that their choice was good. Arham, I guess he wouldn’t have any problem in adjusting here. I walked to my room. Unfortunately, it opened to the lounge and whenever I open the door of my room, I always come face to face with whoever was sitting there. Sucks, big time, when you’ve to say hi to dad’s boring friends and there is no way of avoiding it. As I was about to close the door, my eyes, involuntarily (I swear), traced their path to Arham. He was marveling a painting I got ages ago, hanged in the lounge. Thank God, no awkward eye contact. I closed the door as softly as I could. At that very instant, my cell phone rang. It was my brother calling and oh shit, I forgot to call him when I had promised that next time, it would be me who’d call him. Sigh. “Hey Ali.” “Do I even have a sister?” Sarcasm, it runs in our blood. “Unlike you, dear brocteria, I am a busy person. Job all good?” He lives abroad and works in the field of microbiology. So now you know why I called him brocteria. “Yes. I heard Mrs. Farhan left. Is it true?” News move faster than light, in our neighborhood. I wonder who told Ali though. “Yeah. Was it reTina who spread the news? Did she tell you about the new family too?” Tina is our maid. ReTina, well, biology is fun. And my bro has her number, don’t even ask me how he got it. “No, I called mom yesterday. She told me everything. And while we’re talking about mom now, let’s discuss the real reason behind this call. She is worried about you. Why are you working on weekends?” Talk about being a brother who is only a couple of years older. “You know why. I enjoy working there. Why do you guys have to ask me the same question every time?” There was a pause; he wasn’t satisfied. “I like listening to them & you know that.” “I know that alright but this is not good. Take out some time for your own self, Maria. You can’t treat your special ones your whole life. You deserve a break.” I knew it wouldn’t do any good but I had nothing else to say, “I am honestly doing fine Ali, stop worrying yourself about me or anyone here. Mom’s getting carried away with her usual paranoia that I’m over stressing myself, I’ll talk to her.” After talking for a few more minutes, the call ended abruptly. Batter ended. I put my phone on charge, freshened myself up and made it to the kitchen. By now, the other family had gone. “So now you are good chums with her?” I asked my mom at the dinner table. “No, of course not, we don’t know them entirely, but they seem very well-educated and nothing like Mrs. Farhan.” I noticed the edge but let it go. “It was very obvious that they were judging me on the basis of my profession. Well-educated much?” God, this vegetable salad is so good. “Well, it’s a bit unusual. They don’t come across psychologists that often in Pakistan. And you know this yourself. So don’t fret over it. Their views will probably change with time.” Trust dad to be all positive. “Right.” For the rest of the dinner, we were discussing my brother, his work, the food, my mom’s suspicions about my work, etc. As for me, I was contemplating the importance & blessing of having a family. A number of my special ones, never had the chance to know what it’s like to have a good, decent, rules-oriented family. They had siblings to whom they had never even talked to or lost all contacts with them. Parents, who hardly cared about their children, or children, who lived with their parents but only wished them morning and night. Teenagers, who complained constantly of never having anyone in their family to talk to about their general “teenage affairs.” Or families, who had never had a meal together. It was so hard to hear these bitter stories, they literally brought tears to my eyes at times. How can families be torn apart like this? How can people let the usual demands of life get in the way of themselves & their family? How can people stop caring about the people they have a blood relation? How can people just kill these eternal, special and strong bonds? When ever I looked into the eyes of my special ones, I never saw them dreaming about money or riches or wealth or clothes or huge mansions. What I saw in their eyes was something which could be only brought to them by a miracle. Something, for which they would’ve to keep fighting and even then, they couldn’t be sure whether they would earn it or not, in the end. Something, which required patience, not only for a day or two, but sometimes, for their whole lives. They dreamed of happiness. They wanted to experience elation. They yearned for ecstasy. They wanted to feel loved. They wanted to know what it was like to have a life like I had right now. For them, this was the real happiness. For them, this was paradise. This was the miracle they were looking for. This was the miracle they would die for.

***

Thank you for reading! 🙂 Image credits: https://law.marquette.edu/programs-degrees/family-law

Realizing your passion

“Hey! Tell me about yourself. What do you love doing?”

“I love… sketching.”

“Sketching? Interesting. So what do you sketch?”

“Everything.”

“I don’t think so. You see, sketching is a source to your passion. When you sketch, what exactly do you want to sketch?”

“Uh… whatever is on my mind, I guess.”

“Yes. And what is on your mind?”

“Loads of stuff. It varies.”

“I see. What’s the core element comprising your thoughts? Sadness? Happiness?”

“Sadness, of course.”

“How do you tend to draw depression?”

“It may be something awfully dark.”

“Now you see your passion? Sketching is a source to achieve it. To let it out.”

“But… passion is what you love doing. Isn’t it? I don’t exactly LOVE sketching the darkness inside me!”

“Haha, do you hear yourself? Okay, so what do you love drawing?”

“You don’t get it. I love sketching but I don’t want to sketch sadness every time. It makes me feel… vulnerable. So I wouldn’t say it’s my passion.”

“So what’s your passion?”

“… OH GOD! I DON’T KNOW!”

“Listen to me. No passion is worthless. You might think it isn’t a good thing, sketching dark all the time. But it’s the only way that makes you survive, live fully. To you it’s being vulnerable, but you know deep inside, the only way you can smile is after you sketch the melancholia surrounding you.”

“I get it now.”