For various elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer’s diseases and even other forms of restricted or permanent dementia, expressive therapy has been found to be very useful. Many music therapists and gerontologists offer this as a form of treatment for various types of mental, cognitive, and other impairment suffered by patients, especially the elderly.
The biggest challenge for people suffering from various types of cognitive disorders is their inability to understand and learn through their thinking and other senses. This happens because these patients suffer from partial loss of memory which degenerates over a period of time. They also suffer from stress, anxiety and various stages of depression. It has been found that whenever these patients have been offered means by which they can express themselves, it has helped them to improve their cognitive capabilities.
However, it’s not just any expression that’s therapeutic; patients should be persuaded to express themselves in a manner that makes them happy and light. Though initially it may take time and acclimation for the client to adapt to or embrace this form of expression fully, but under the careful guidance of a qualified therapist, not only do they take to the therapy, but it begins to work. Results have been generally positive.
Signs And Situations Where Expressive Therapy Can Be Helpful
While we have mentioned Alzheimer’s and dementia as the main areas where expressive therapy can be helpful, there are many other situations too where it has been found to be very helpful:
- Moderate to severe depression.
- Various types of anxiety disorders.
- Lack of sleep or insomnia.
- Sense of despondency and a feeling of uselessness.
- Uncontrolled grief, anger or other negative feelings.
- Many types of eating disorders.
- Hypertension caused by stress and anxiety.
- Mild to Moderate forms of Autism.
Effects Of Expressive Therapy And How It Works
The most common effect of expressive therapy is that it works as a wonderful mood enhancer. It lifts the entire mood and patients who were despondent and lifeless have been known to become bubbly and cheerful when they go through this therapy. Though there are many avenues by which one can try out these therapies, it has generally found that music and dance make the biggest difference. Many patients have literally started clapping, dancing, and laughing when they have been exposed to this therapy. Hence, there is no doubt that this plays the role of a great mood enhancer without actually being subjected to drugs that artificially elevate moods. It is therefore a safe and very effective alternate way to address the problems related to moods, cognition and various stages of dementia.
Short Term Effects of Expressive Therapy
One has to realize that there are no magic wands as far as the efficacy levels of expressive therapy are concerned. It is a gradual process and it might take some time before the effects start manifesting on the patients. In the short term it is likely that the patients will hardly show any changes. It is important not to stop therapy just because the desired results are not forthcoming. Persevering and being patient is very important as far as short term results are concerned.
Long Term Effects of Expressive Therapy
The long term impact of expressive therapy will start being visible usually within a period of three to four weeks. However, it is important that the therapy be continued unstopped on a daily basis so that it can become a predictable element of the individual’s daily or weekly structure. Once the therapy starts having its effect, one might see patients laughing or responding to others, which they may not have done for a long period of time. This could certainly be called the turning point. When this process continues the patients as mentioned above will see gradual improvement in their mood levels. It could eventually lead to smile, laughter, clapping of hands and even dancing on some occasions.
Success rates are dependent upon the individuals, the stage at which the therapy has been started, and the type of illness the patient is suffering from. For example, results may not be as encouraging in advanced cases of autism when compared to dementia or depression. Hence, it may not be possible to use a single brush to determine the success to failure ratio of this form of therapy.