After the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, in October 2021, the medical journal The Lancet published the first global study on the impact of COVID-19 epidemic on mental health. It is pointed out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be 53 million new cases of major depression and 76 million new cases of anxiety in the world in 2020. Both major depression and anxiety will increase the risk of other diseases and suicide. Among them, in terms of mental health, women are more seriously affected than men, and young people are more seriously affected than the elderly.

Therefore, political depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and stress response have become professional words that frequently appear during the epidemic. It turns out that it may happen to yourself or people around you more or less, and it is not far away from us.

Individuals who encounter natural disasters, wars and social emergencies may experience these emotions. They seem harmless to the body, but they can cause serious psychological and spiritual trauma, which may take a long time to digest or cure.

We often think that the best way to solve such problems is to seek professional psychological counselors, or to restore the original order and environment in order to find the original sense of balance. But in fact, the counselor may be experiencing the same emotional experience as you. Many things have changed and there is no way to go back to the past. At the same time, the environment may constantly bring new stimuli. Under such circumstances, how can we protect our emotions without the help of professionals? Will not go to extreme or irreparable misery.

Artistic Creation Cures Psychological Dilemma
All along, the cognition that art gives to the world comes more from its appreciation and non-practicality. But in fact, studies from Freud’s time have shown that positive artistic creation can heal psychological trauma well. In other words, artistic creation has the function of curing psychological difficulties.

The Interpretation of Dreams, published in 1900, is Freud’s most famous psychological work. In the book, he first mentioned the subconscious view that a person may reveal some forgotten or depressed expressions and symbols through dreams or artistic creation. Jung, his student, made a further in-depth study of the subconscious and put forward the concept of “collective unconsciousness”, leaving behind the classic Red Book. These two psychological masters who have influenced the world are very concerned about the symbolic features of art, and both encourage the clients to express their dreams or feelings that cannot be expressed in words by artistic means such as painting.

In the theory of artistic origin, images appeared earlier than words. For example, primitive murals are considered to be the earliest art form of mankind. From this point of view, human beings naturally understood the artistic expression of images from the beginning, earlier than the language of logical thinking. There are even some ethnic minorities who may not have their own characters, but they must have totems symbolizing their tribal spirit. In expressing their feelings and desires, they often choose dance or music. Art has become a language different from language, and it does not need deliberate education and practice, because it is rooted in the collective unconsciousness of human beings.

So far, according to textual research, the oldest is the mural in Lascaux Grottoes found in southwest France, about 20,000 years ago.

Therefore, if you want to dig deep into a person’s heart, you don’t necessarily need dialogue and communication, because the expression of words is limited and deceptive in some aspects, but aimless painting will make individuals reveal their potential thoughts and emotions. Heart, if we guide individuals to understand and experience the symbolic meaning behind the works, will help individuals deepen their psychological understanding and emotional guidance of themselves. Next, if the second creation is carried out again, the treatment and repair of self-psychology and emotion will be of great help.

It is based on these theoretical studies and clinical trials that many psychiatrists recommend art therapy and reduce drug treatment. Art is no longer created for the sake of creation, but a way to express inner feelings. This way is safe and effective, protects privacy and has some fun. For those who need to eliminate negative emotions such as stress and anxiety, it is a very good choice for a group of people.

Diversity and urgency of art therapy
Unfortunately, under the domestication of the whole social system, modern people have gradually frozen their artistic expression ability outside language, such as having no feeling for rhythm and melody, or having stiff limbs and declining sensory sensitivity. But it is precisely because of this that people are more likely to return to the soul through art therapy.

In 1930s, the concept of “art therapy” was put forward by American psychiatrist Nanberg, who was a follower of Freud and Jung. In the 1940s, art therapy became an independent discipline in Britain and America, and was established in many universities in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Since then, art therapy has been widely used in the psychological trauma treatment of many special people.

Margaret Nanberg, “Mother of American Art Therapy”

Art therapy, as a creative expression of therapy, originated from the blending of art and psychotherapy. Art therapy in a broad sense includes a variety of artistic means, such as painting, drama and music. Art therapy in a narrow sense refers to the visual art therapy based on painting, including sculpture, photography and digital art. The process of art therapy involves artistic creation itself as therapy and the interaction between practitioners and subjects. The targets of counseling may be fund managers, soldiers, autistic children, senile dementia, prisoners, people with social phobia, etc., and may also be some specific people who have suffered psychological trauma in an uneasy environment. For example, people who have suffered from natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and plagues. The places of art therapy can be public institutions such as schools, hospitals, communities, nursing homes and prisons, as well as daily life fields such as studios, coffee shops, theaters, private houses and art galleries.

Art therapy in a hospital in Wandsworth, England after World War I.

The documentary “Healing the Wounds of War with Art” released in the United States in 2018 vividly shows that writing, vision and performing arts can be valuable tools in the healing process. In the study and rehearsal, the participating readers face their best and worst life in the army and tell about their continuous struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, which stems not only from war, but also from sexual assault, including the challenge of readjusting to civilian life. Every veteran and serviceman has brought his unique experience and hardships to this stage, but they have found hope and resonance in the journey of getting rid of the pain of the past.

The documentary “Healing the Wounds of War with Art” tells the story of 10 veterans from different backgrounds. Participants share their fears, weaknesses and victories through poetry, which is a process of connection, understanding and healing.

In China, after the Wenchuan earthquake, there were also special psychotherapists involved in helping the affected people, especially the children who lost their whole bodies due to the earthquake. Among them, the Colorful Fund established by artist Zhou Chunya in 2009 has provided a lot of support and help to help disabled children overcome psychological barriers after the earthquake, build up confidence in life and soothe their injured hearts.

On February 27th, 2009, Zhou Chunya led painters to Dongqi Middle School to help disabled children draw.

China began to introduce the concept of art therapy in 1990s, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts took the lead in teaching, research and practice. After more than 20 years of accumulation, in 2021, it will become the first art college in China to offer an undergraduate major in art therapy. This makes art education not only stay in the study of skills, but also enter the social field and assume greater responsibility for aesthetic education.

The cultivation of colleges and universities makes it possible to export art therapy talents. Especially in the current social situation, pressure and competition are everywhere, and the number of patients with depression is increasing year by year. The COVID-19 epidemic has further aggravated the seriousness of psychological conditions. It is far from enough to rely on psychiatrists under the medical system for a large number of psychological trauma. Art therapy adopts a treatment that is more acceptable to the public. Establishing contact can make early prevention for solving the whole social and psychological problems.

International Forum on Art Therapy of Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2019

In other countries in the world, such as South Korea, the non-profit organization “Art and Human Development” was established in 2008, hoping to take care of personal emotional health and improve the quality of life through art education support, art therapy and support for art professionals. In 2022, it also signed an art healing project with SM Entertainment “SMile! Healing Art Tech “,to help teenagers in crisis emotional stability and recovery.

Self-help art cure under the third epidemic situation
From the above, we can see that the objects, methods and places of art therapy are very diverse, and there are already many learning tools and methods. However, at the special moment of the epidemic, it is impossible to rely entirely on professionally trained art therapists. What is needed is a kind of self-help. Do prevention in advance, prevent further deterioration, and avoid tragedies. Of course, if a group of people encounter great changes, such as major natural disasters, terrorism, war, etc., professional art therapists still need to intervene.

For example, major art groups and individuals, such as art galleries, troupes, music centers, artists, etc., can organize or provide works and activities in different forms and contents to help the masses and do a good job in psychological adjustment and counseling. Especially for some groups and individuals who have been in confined spaces for a long time, such as students in dormitories and residents in dense buildings; Volunteers and public officials who need to deal with various emergencies frequently; News media people who contact and report information from various channels, as well as medical staff who have been working in the front line for a long time and are under great pressure, art therapy needs to provide them with a way to vent and vent. Relieve their emotions, both during and after the epidemic.

The gymnasium of Lingang Campus of Shanghai Maritime University plays melodious music to ease the tension between teachers and students.

Wu Xiaobo and composer Tian Yimiao share the self-help guide for off-line epidemic \n

The musician Pang Kuan’s 14-day live broadcast ended, criticizing and affirming this performance art. However, as a musician, he experienced 14 days of isolated life with the people in the besieged city through live broadcast, which brought empathy and understanding.

In addition, different people also need to know and learn some art therapy methods. In the early stage of the emergence of bad emotions, we must pay attention to our psychological changes, protect our emotions, and find people or things that can support our emotional system. Strive to complete self-help with your own strength, and the place is not limited to family, school, community, company and other places. For example, maintain daily communication with family, friends, lovers, netizens, neighbors, colleagues, etc., gain emotional ties, and avoid the breeding of negative emotions such as loneliness and fear. Once you feel excessively sad, disappointed or angry, don’t always get stuck in it, divert your attention from negative information, stay away from mobile phones or computers, listen to soothing music, light incense or take deep breaths, so as to calm your mind and give emergency rescue to your emotions.

If you can’t avoid staying in a closed environment, I suggest you do something specific at a fixed time every day to adjust your mood. For example, taking pictures of natural scenery or life scenes that move you, recording daily life in words under the epidemic situation, watching a happy movie, studying a kind of porcelain or painting, doodling or reading a book, learning to sing a song or a dance movement, recording interesting fragments of life to share with friends, and even learning to cook a delicious food, raise a plant, and do a housework are all concrete things that can be easily performed.

In fact, painting, photography, playing, writing, singing, dancing and watching movies are all self-healing. Its purpose is not to create expressive art, but sometimes it can give you a relief when you struggle with negative emotions. Although it can’t replace professional mental health treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, art and life are a kind of present creation after all. No matter how you change the way of artistic creation, only the existence of life is unavoidable. So cherishing life is the beginning of self-help. Protecting yourself during the epidemic is not only physical, but also emotional and ideological. In any case, face life positively and optimistically, and the epidemic will always disperse. Let life be full of control rather than chaos, which is the uselessness of art.

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