By Stephanie Tuminello
Conventionally, epilepsy has been treated with a variety of drug alternatives. These drugs are aimed at controlling seizures, and while most are very effective they all have unfortunate side effects including tiredness, nausea, blurred vision, weight loss, weight gain, rashes, and insomnia. Because of this, health care providers seek alternative therapies. Art therapy is one promising example. By reducing the stress of epilepsy patients, art therapy has been shown to indirectly lower seizure frequency independent of any medication.
Developed in the 1940s, art therapy is not used to treat epilepsy alone. It operates on the idea that creative expression helps to resolve internal conflicts, increase self-esteem and increase self-awareness, and in doing so relieves some of the stress of the patient. Art therapists receive training in both art and psychotherapy so as to be better able to help their patients. Oftentimes, art therapists can be part of a team of health care providers including physicians, psychologists, nurses, and mental health practitioners.
For epilepsy patients, art therapy will usually take place over a number of sessions. The form of creative expression can vary and can be either drawing, painting, or sculpting. Art therapy can help people with epilepsy communicate their feelings, which they otherwise would not have been able to put into words. It may also help them learn how to better relate to other people, something that the stigma surrounding their condition might otherwise prevent. The art itself evolves over numerous sessions becoming something that opens the lines of communication between the artist and the therapist. Art therapy has been seen to be especially beneficial to young people with epilepsy in helping them make the transition from living a more dependent lifestyle with their parents to a more autonomous one.
Epileptic artists have created a multitude of awe-inspiring art, both associated with and independent of their medical condition.<span> </span>Below is a link to an online gallery of some of this artwork.
In this way art can be both liberating and healthy for people living with epilepsy, with amazing results. Equally importantly, it can help epilepsy patients by reducing the stigma associated with condition as viewers of their artwork can relate on the most basic, primal levels to the emotions and themes being expressed, so that all and all art therapy is an alternative treatment method of great value.
(2014). Epilepsy Drugs to Treat Seizures. WebMD. Retrieved March 3, 2014 from http://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/medications-treat-seizures
(2014). Art Therapy. Epilepsy.com. Retrieved March 3. 2104 from https://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/treat_art_therapy