Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

The P In Perma The Role Of Art Therapy In Emotional Expression Affect Regulation And Positive Mood (#69)

Gioia Chilton 1 , Rebecca Wilkinson 2 , Janet Mcleod 3 , Megan Booth 4
  1. Counseling Department, Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD, USA
  2. Creative Wellbeing Workshops, Alexandria, VA, United States
  3. Create Wellbeing , Auckland, New Zealand
  4. Hollyhox Positive Resources, Launceston, Tasmania , Australia

This presentation will explore the role of art therapy in emotional expression, affect regulation, and positive mood. Artistic creation is an activity that has been shown to increase positive emotions and improve mood (Babouchkina & Robbins, 2015; De Petrillo & Winner, 2011). Because artmaking induces positive emotions, it promotes expansive thinking and associated broaden-and-build social resources (Baas, De Dreu, & Nijstad, 2008; Fredrickson, 2004).  Art therapy capitalizes on these benefits of the creative process to aid individual and collective wellbeing. Artistic creation allows our emotions to be externalized, symbolically communicated, and understood in powerful ways (Kramer, 1971; Naumburg, 1966). This is a critical component of art therapy—through art, we can bring inchoate feelings into awareness and shape them into tangible form (Langer, 1957). Through these art forms, we express more nuanced, diverse emotions than we can by just talking it out. Even though artmaking may be difficult at times, many of us witness and experience the deep satisfaction that comes from giving form to tangled-up emotions. The art therapy experience helps us find emotional clarity and discover insights. Art therapists provide clinical skills and artistic know-how to assist clients to boost expression and regulation of emotions (Wilkinson & Chilton, 2018).