A recent article published by The Independent reveals the origins of art therapy and traces its evolution to today’s art therapy programs. Discover the story of Edward Adamson, who came up with the idea of using creativity as a way to heal the mind.

Inhumane Treatment of the Mentally Ill

Decades ago, people with mental health problems were hustled off to asylums and subjected to painful, medieval-era “treatments.” However, during the middle of the twentieth century, that system began to change, and mental patients were instead housed in special hospitals and treated with counselling and other therapies. During this era of more humane treatment, artist Edward Adamson became a proponent of art therapy.

Edward Adamson, Art Therapy Pioneer

Adamson’s idea was to treat the mind and the body at the same time. He used art sessions to help patients express the emotions and ideas that overwhelmed them. His patients and the psychiatrists in charge of them noticed the healing effects of these creative experiences. Dr. David O’Flynn, who now chairs the Adamson Collection of art, says, “The studio was not only a place of calm and creativity but also a place of acceptance. Adamson accepted people’s behaviour and accepted the arts they wanted to make.”

In those days, in spite of Adamson’s efforts, the patients’ art was still over-interpreted and used as a tool for diagnosis. Today, patients have much more freedom to express themselves in a variety of ways.

Gary Molloy’s Story

One man named Gary Molloy, who suffers from severe bipolar disorder, discovered painting almost by accident. He became fascinated with a set of abstract paintings in the hospital ward where he was recovering from his latest bipolar episode. Upon researching their origins, he found Core Arts, a centre where mental health patients can explore the arts.

Molloy was fascinated and began to try art therapy himself. “I found something magical in painting, writing and poetry. It eased the symptoms,” he explains. “Ever since, I’ve been managing my condition by being creative, and building my self-esteem.” Since he found art 17 years ago, Molloy has not been hospitalised for his condition.

Lisa Buttery’s Experience

Lisa Buttery, who suffers from borderline personality disorder, experiences similar relief through painting and creating art. She began using art therapy at age 15. “It definitely helped me on days when I didn’t feel like talking and helped me to express things that I found hard to put into words,” she explains. Later she assisted with the founding of Art in Mind, a volunteer group of artists who had a mission and vision to raise awareness for mental illness.

Art Therapy in Singapore

The Singapore psychiatrists and psychologists at Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic believe strongly in the power of creativity and the uses of art therapy. We often include different types of art therapy as part of a patient’s treatment plan. With the help of counselling, creative expression, modern holistic therapies, and sometimes medication, our patients can find relief and learn to manage the symptoms of their mental illness.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: The Independent, 6 September 2016