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Getting To The Heart Open Access

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ABSTRACTThe purpose of this study is to explore the emotional and physical effects of a healingenvironment that uses art therapy as its main modality of treatment. The exploration focuseson the connection between emotional well-being and physical health, which occurs as a resultof creating art. This includes heart rate levels, blood pressure levels, immune function, stresslevels and serotonin levels. The other area of focus is the human need to create, why itleads to a heightened sense of self awareness, and the mental shift that takes place in theprocess. 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 allemotional health. The reasearch for this study is obtained through the use of books, journals,interviews with art therapists, artists, and support group participants. The research alsoincluded self experimentation which involved taking areas of current conflict or personalobstacles, and applying the principles of art therapy to resolve the conflict. The site for thisprogram is located at Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, California. The climate, andnatural setting make it ideal for healing and renewal. The research conducted in thisstudy demonstrates that there is a mental shift that takes place as a result of producing artthat puts one in a present state of mind. This focus and presence of mind allows the artistclarity of thought which contributes to their ability to target the source of resistance orfriction, and work on it with the art medium. Supporting this process is the studioivenvironment which has a synergistic quality, encourages listening and sharing, andhas the benefit of the calming effects of nature. All of these methods proved to havesignificant effect on physical and emotional health, each one having a direct effecton the other.

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