The purpose of this study is to explore the emotional and physical effects of a healing environment that uses art therapy as its main modality of treatment. The exploration focuses on the connection between emotional well-being and physical health, which occurs as a result of creating art. This includes heart rate levels, blood pressure levels, immune function, stress levels and serotonin levels. The other area of focus is the human need to create, why it leads to a heightened sense of self awareness, and the mental shift that takes place in the process. Equally as important is the impact of a supportive, creative community of artists, and the significance that nature has on the healing process, and its contribution to over all emotional health. The research for this study is obtained through the use of books, journals, interviews with art therapists, artists, and support group participants. The research also included self experimentation which involved taking areas of current conflict or personal obstacles, and applying the principles of art therapy to resolve the conflict. The site for this program is located at Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California. The climate, and natural setting make it ideal for healing and renewal. The research conducted in this study demonstrates that there is a mental shift that takes place as a result of producing art that puts one in a present state of mind. This focus and presence of mind allows the artist clarity of thought which contributes to their ability to target the source of resistance or friction, and work on it with the art medium. Supporting this process is the studio environment which has a synergistic quality, encourages listening and sharing, and has the benefit of the calming effects of nature. All of these methods proved to have significant effect on physical and emotional health, each one having a direct effect on the other.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
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