At the 2008 AATA conference in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, Dr. Bruce Perry, M.D., Ph.D. addressed the topic of how art therapy 1.) impacts the healing process, 2.) facilitates recovery and 3.) aids the restoration of healthy functions of the brain.
Dr. Perry’s speech was titled “The Healing Arts: The Neurodevelopmental Impact of Art Therapies,” and he brought up the fact that creative art therapies are essentially non-threatening. Dr. Perry stated that providing non-threatening therapy to clients complements the brain’s restorative function because it helps to alleviate stressed states.
This is so important because stress can decrease in the availability of glucose (which is essential for cell health), affect synaptic plasticity, produce changes in dendritic structure, and lead to loss of neurons, particularly in the hippocampus region of the brain (MsEwen, B., and Sapolsky, R., 1995). Stress can inhibit healing on many different levels!
MsEwen, B., & Sapolsky, R. (1995). Stress and cognitive function. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 5(2), 205-216.