ART therapists are being advised to use an art therapy called “Nft Art Therapy” (NAT) to help patients with anxiety and other mental health conditions, after finding a link between the two.
Art therapist Michael Beecroft from the Art Therapy Centre in Sydney says the technique is a natural therapy and can be used in any situation where a patient feels anxious, and the therapy is not limited to mental health issues.
“This is a great way to improve a patient’s mood and help them feel better and have better control of their lives,” he said.
“It has been shown to be effective in anxiety and depressive disorders in people of all ages.”
The technique is based on the use of images of people, or a painting, which is then applied to the patient’s body to produce an altered perception of the object.
The technique can be applied to anxiety, depression, anxiety-like behaviour and other conditions that can cause anxiety, and involves taking pictures of patients with a specific set of emotions and then applying the technique.
“We think that by doing it with the patient, it can help them to think about the object and the time they’re in that moment,” Mr Beecrow said.
He said the technique could also be used to treat physical symptoms such as pain and stiffness, as well as depression and anxiety.
Mr Beecroy said NAT therapy was often used to help people with mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“People with depression are able to use NAT therapy to help them cope with the loss of their partner or family member, or to manage their stress levels,” he added.
“For people with anxiety disorders, we can help people get through difficult situations by using the technique to reduce their anxiety.”
Mr Beccroy said the process was similar to what he and his colleagues use in their clinical work, and he hoped NAT therapy could be incorporated into other areas of mental health.
“In our practice, NAT therapy is used to reduce the stress of a crisis,” he told AAP.
“Sometimes that means working with a crisis counsellor or therapist who’s got a range of skills and experience and who’s been trained in this type of therapy.”
Mr Meares said NAT therapies could be a great help for people struggling with anxiety or depression, as it was not about a cure.
“I think NAT is one of those therapies that is used by people with chronic anxiety disorders who are seeking relief and help,” he explained.
“Nat therapy has been proven to be helpful for patients with multiple anxiety disorders.”
The NAT technique is not new, with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) studying it in the 1990s, and is now available to therapists from around the world.
Professor Alan Rutter from the UNSW Anxiety and Depression Centre said NAT could help people in an acute or chronic state.
“The technique has been around for a while and has been used by other people in the community, like psychologists,” he wrote in an email.
“But it has also been shown in the literature to be particularly effective in people with major depressive disorder.”
He said NAT had also been used to relieve anxiety and stress, and in some cases, to treat PTSD.
Professor Rutter said he believed NAT therapy would be used widely in the coming years, and was keen to see more research done into NAT therapy.
“Our hope is that NAT will be used more broadly to treat other mental illnesses as well,” he noted.”NFT Therapy is a good example of a tool that can be helpful to patients with mental illness, including depression, who are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear or fear-related thoughts, or for people who are dealing with major depression.”NFT has been recommended by a number of mental healthcare experts, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Australian Mental Health Association (AMHA), the Association of Australian Psychotherapists (AAPA), the National Council of Psychologists (NCP) and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).
Mr Beercroft said NAT was a natural way to help with anxiety.
“If you’re feeling anxious and you’re not going to do anything, then NAT can help you to focus on something else that you can’t control,” he says.
“When you’re in the moment, you can use NAT to reduce your anxiety.”