How Art Therapy Helps with Self Injury

3 Ways Art Therapy Helps with Self Injurious Behavior 

Making art creates an outlet 

Self injury is used as a way to release or express intense and overwhelming feelings that are challenging to express with words. Creating art is a form of self expression that taps into that nonverbal area of the brain. What has felt impossible to express with words is now accessible. And by making art, the artist usually feels a sense of catharsis. Quite simply, relief comes from the release of emotions in the artwork. 

Artwork is tangible representation of thoughts and feelings

Many describe their injuries as a way to record experiences and literally see their internal pain. When using art as an outlet, it also creates a tangible record of feelings. I recommend creating a space for the artwork, either a journal or portfolio, so that artwork can be tucked away if needed. Working with an art therapist provides an extra element of containment and the therapist will guide the process of self-expression in a safe, secure environment. 

Making art creates a distraction

Giving your attention to something else can help distract you from urges to self harm. You may choose to focus on hopeful imagery or affirmation phrases. Or, you're looking for a way to quiet your thoughts. Using the Zentangle® Method of drawing is a wonderful way to distract from pervasive thoughts. The repetitive creation of lines and shapes in the designs is meditative and calming.

You can break free from the cycle of self-harm. 

Working with an art therapist will help you implement these practices in your life and use healthy coping skills to manage stressful experiences.