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Exploring the Science of Expressive Art Therapy at VIMHANS


In times of increasing need for varied therapeutic approaches for varied populations, team Protsahan had the honour to visit, experience and understand the multimodal services and integration of holistic and innovative practices in existing treatment provided by VIMHANS hospital in the area of mental health through Expressive Arts Therapy.

The two day visit was informative and helpful for us to further refine and review our model and approach.

Day 1 – Introduction to Art Therapy at VIMHANS

Day 1 began with a brief introduction on the work done and services offered by VIMHANS and Protsahan.

This was followed by attending different Expressive Art Therapy sessions of origami, food therapy and hypnotherapy. The art therapists and doctors shared with us the science behind how these innovative treatment modalities enhance cognition, self belief, self reliance, self expression, mind and body connection, active participation and fastening of treatment of varied mental health issues and disorders for all age groups. The created products reflect an individual’s personality, psychological conflicts, concerns, abilities and interests.

Expressive Arts Therapy, craft, Art, Artivism, VIMHANS, art therapy, mental health
Representational image. Photo credits: Dominika Roseclay from Pexels

As the scope of Creative Art Based Interventions expanded at Protsahan, we felt the need to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of these measures and required guidance in this direction. Team VIMHANS, by elaborating on the increasing prevalence of inclusive forms of treatment, indicated the necessity of quantifying data and maintaining case history records as imperative.

Day 2 – Delving deeper into Expressive Arts Therapy

Day 2 began with a discussion with specialists of neuropsychology, child psychology and psychiatry. The doctors explained the signs and symptoms to look out for in children to identify or differentiate between a mental health issue and initiation of a severe mental health condition. They also indicated how a comprehensive intake form could be built and interviews be taken of the child before enrolling, which would be helpful in solving the purpose of codifying data and evaluating progress.

Next was another session of Expressive Arts Therapy. Apart from ‘talk’, which is the traditional and mostly used method of exchange in therapy, this session of expressive arts laid emphasis on different expressive styles- visual, tactile, and movement.

This was followed by a session with Dr. Sonia where she told us about the history of art based therapy, how it evolved and how it has benefited her clients over the years. She suggested that the teachers at Protsahan take professional training in Art Therapy for further enhancement in results.

Expressive Arts Therapy, food therapy, Art, Artivism, VIMHANS, art therapy, mental health
Representational image. Photo credits: Dana Tentis from Pexels

We were then introduced to the various vocational and therapeutic recreational activities that are offered at VIMHANS hospital- art and craft, web designing, animation, computer skills training, etc. that contribute in overall well being of an individual. Other basic and advanced facilities were just an add on to the holistic range of services provided.

In the end

The final discussion focused on how we can document our data and progress over the years in a scientific manner. The therapists at VIMHANS suggested various statistical methods and tools and how different existing scales can be used or modified for research and as per our needs and context.

Their recommendations and insights will help team Protsahan improve the model of expressive art therapy based interventions to serve the children at risk in an inclusive manner.

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