For those of you who enjoy reading about Art Therapy and neuroscience, here is link to a list of publications by Noah Hass-Cohen that might be useful: http://noahhasscohen.com/my-publications.html
January 28, 2012
Also, I recently received an e-mail from a student in London, but I must have accidentally deleted it. I'm disappointed because I really wanted to respond. Perhaps she will read this post.
As I recall, the question in the e-mail was in preparation for an in-class debate: "Why might a neuroscience model for art therapy be beneficial?" The student mentioned a comparison between a neuroscience and a psychodynamic model of Art Therapy.
In the US, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a reimbursable form of therapy. The status that CBT has with insurers and funding agencies is a result of concrete and measurable goals, goal-focused processes and clear outcomes-based evaluations/results.
Some theoretical models related to Art Therapy include psychodynamic psychotherapy which is similar to psychoanalysis in that the primary focus is to reveal unconscious material. Concrete goals and goal-focused processes are not central tenets of the theoretical framework.
'Art as healing' has become a buzz-phrase within the field of Art Therapy. However, this statement may be viewed as meaningless.
What is art 'healing' exactly? How is it 'healing' this part of a person? Where is measured proof that something has been 'healed' as a direct result of Art Therapy?
Armed with a neuro-scientific perspective, Art Therapists can outline art-making processes in a way that is more meaningful. For instance, saying that art-as-therapy promotes EEG rhythms to increase in alpha frequency, thus decreasing behavioral symptoms of anxiety is more concrete, can be measured, and sessions can be structured around EEG readings.
Likewise, saying that creating emotion-centered images aims to promote brain activity in the limbic system and simultaneously engage the hippocampus, thus encouraging enhanced cognitive performance is concrete, can be evaluated, and clear goals can be established. Cognitive performance pre and post treatment can be measured, for instance. Art directives can be systematically oriented towards positive, emotion-centered image-making, and discussions can be focused on reminiscence.
Art Therapy descriptions phrased around neuroscience themes may become more concrete, goal-oriented, and outcome-based. Whether or not this is "better" is debatable. However, from this perspective, Art Therapy becomes a linear, clear-cut process, that may be more insurable and funding-friendly. I, for one, like that idea.
I hope this helps!
Posted by NeuroScience in Art Therapy Research Group