Before finding the answer to this question it is necessary to understand the background, history, and importance of what Art Therapy is. First of all Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy. In psychotherapy there is an exploration of feelings and concerns in nonverbal and verbal exercises that use simple visual art materials. Art therapy focuses on the creative process for a person instead of what they are able to produce. Confusing and difficult feelings are able to be expressed through using Art Therapy because it is presented in a non-threatening manner. Art Therapy is used to encourage insight, self-awareness, and independence of the patient. People whom use Art Therapy feel they are able to communicate and gain understanding through it. Art Therapy is said to help in a creative process that a person goes through in which they can find "inner guidance" and find "self-healing" at a conscious level. Art Therapy can be expressed through storytelling, poetry, music, dance, visual arts, painting, sculpture, and any other type of creativity activity. Many Art Therapists believe that there is growing a stronger connection between art and healing and believe that Art Therapy is significant to a person’s health.
Art Therapy was originally a part of the term "Expressive Therapy" and therefore categorized in a broad spectrum. During the age of Expressionism, which VanGough and other artists like him were a part of, expressive therapy began to develop. This took place in Europe when there was a need for emotional self-expression. In order to express this idea art work was portrayed with distortion of colors, shapes, and surfaces. This started to lead to the idea of abstraction. At this time, William Reich, who was a psychiatrist, started bringing psychiatry and expressionism together. He thought that this expressive therapy would be good because holding in energy causes both physical and psychological illnesses. Many "ancient mysteries" also show background of art therapy beginnings. An example of this is presented by Randall McClellan, a professor for the National Expressive Therapy Association. He said at a conference held at Harvard University:
"The name Rana, meaning ?sun breath,’ has its origin in ancient concepts of life that recognized vibration as the fundamental creative force which was a central principle of the many esoteric mystery schools of the ancient world. It is now evident that the use of music for its ability to alter mind states and for its effectiveness as a healing force was music’s original purpose and an important concept of these mystery schools."
This shows that art therapy is not something recent, instead it has been around for many years, but has been understood completely.
Now we reach the idea of "How does Art Therapy help in health and help in general?". Art Therapy finds the part in each person, according to various experts, which works toward health and healing. Art Therapy is said to draw from within a person to find their inner strengths and build a bridge between that and the outer reality. Art Therapy, more so in the symbolic expression aspect, is able to help people express their most deep painful hurt in a way that is not overwhelming and therefore helps to begin to deal with the problem or health hazard. Art Therapy is focused of helping self esteem. If a person’s self esteem is encouraged positively and made stronger than that person is going to be more proud of themselves. Therefore that person is going to make sure they keep their body healthy and away from sickness. Through Art Therapy it is said that mastery and self control is enhanced which is important in maintaining healthiness. Art Therapy is said to help in health in the disciplines it teaches and the freeness that comes from being able to find a way to express the feelings and emotions that you are dealing with.