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Cultivating Empathy Through a Digital Art Community

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

By: Kelly D'Souza

I was reading Tim de Pass’ blog article Turning Social Media into a Form of Self Care on the Conscious Counselling Blog. I absolutely vouch for it. In the last three years, I have religiously subscribed to art on social media platforms that facilitate self-care. The Artidote is a virtual space that brings art and literature together to emphasize empathy, bonding, and healing. The digital art sparks something within my being, and the literature/caption always appeals to me for one important reason. It focuses on "acceptance of all feelings." The unapologetic form of self-expression through digital art has been therapeutic.

In today’s age, it’s important to recognize the therapeutic nature of contemporary digital art. Dr. Cathy Malchiodi recently used the term "digital natives" in her article Art Therapy and Digital Technology: Digital Art Therapy on Psychology Today. She draws a comparison between language and digital media. According to her, the individuals who were born after the year 1980 are fluent speakers of digital media. As professionals in the field and individuals who highly value mental health and wellness, we need to be aware of this growing form of art therapy.

I remember when I was first browsing through posts on the The Artidote, I felt a deep sense of connection to the art. It was also a time where I had frequent sessions with my psychotherapist. One of the biggest challenges I faced through that healing process was self-expression. Emotionally visiting old wounds which had a band-aid on them and opening them up for healing often made me feel things that I couldn’t put a name to. I went from being someone who didn’t know the names of feelings to wanting to communicate and express feelings. The art in itself was someone else’s self-expression. The text captions spoke about feelings and other important aspects such as gratitude, failure, triumph, and rejection. Being part of and surrounding myself with that allowed me to find a new normal. In a world where feeling too much or talking about it can be ridiculed, being sensitive and aware of my feelings became typical. I want you to know how the process was facilitated and mediated by a registered trained psychotherapist, but the art and the platform became a space to heal, and was my personal crutch during healing. As the Artidote community grew, people all over the world were being vulnerably honest, and empathy from other members of the world continued to flow in.

I continue to subscribe to this form of art. It also promotes mindfulness and positivity. "BREATHE" has been a movement on the social media platform that urges its members to find a quiet place to breathe and listen to ourselves. Videos and Snaps from other members remind me of the good in people and encourages me to find my space to "breathe." I feel more altruistic than I ever was before. Not only does it make me want to care for myself but to care for others.

Feel free to talk to our team about art-forms that you find therapeutic! References Malchiodi, C. (n.d.). Art Therapy and Digital Technology: Digital Art Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/201712/art-therapy-and-digital-technology-digital-art-therapy

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