PuzzleArt Therapy: Because Art Heals

When I created PuzzleArt Therapy, I was in the throes of my own recovery from a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) and painting was calling to me. It all began when I answered the urge I felt to put paint on canvas and absorb myself in color, texture, shape, and line. Without planning to, I immersed myself in a form of art therapy, which is known to foster self-awareness, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and help with problem-solving abilities – in essence, art heals.

all berman at work vincent van gogh quote

Touch the Art

One of the things I have always felt is an attachment to art and a desire to be a part of it. It was always so confusing to me, especially as a child, that you could go into a museum or gallery and see amazing, inspiring art that seemingly wanted to reach out and touch your soul, and yet you could not respond in kind.

Everything in museums and galleries is so formal. You may feel connected to the art, you may want to approach it and truly take it in, but there is that barrier that makes it so you cannot go near it (and the watchful eyes of security guards often make sure you keep your distance!).

I always wanted to touch the paintings I liked. I wanted to examine them and come in close and look at them without someone clearing their throat and asking me to, “Step back behind the line on the floor, please.”

I never actually touched the art, but I am someone who has been kicked out of some of the best museums in the world. I make those security guards very nervous.

This desire to touch art, to be a part of it, inspired me to create art that can be touched. I’ve answered that problem with my PuzzleArt pieces. They are an art form that is meant to be touched, to be moved, to be changed. The viewer becomes part of the process. The viewer becomes an artist.

“What interests me most is when a work of art is no longer just an object, but also touches reality and life.” – Miuccia Prada

I wanted my art to not only connect with people, but for people to be able to connect with my art, manipulating it in ways that turn them into the artist. As I saw this burgeoning therapeutic art form begin to transform my own life in recovery, I could see for myself that art heals. I knew I had touched on something profound.


The Arts Heal Throughout History

The arts have long been used as a part of healing throughout the history of mankind, from the Egyptians who are thought to have urged those with mental illness toward creative pursuits to the Renaissance when English physician Robert Burton proposed that imagination was key to health and well-being.

The idea that art heals is not new. Music, art, drama – the arts have been utilized throughout human history in ways that promote social relationships, brain activity, encourage creativity, and develop problem solving-skills. We are drawn to the arts to connect us to our inner selves, to those around us, to the world.

thomas merton quote seniors engaged with PuzzlArt

While this has long been the practice of humanity, today we are beginning to recognize the role of the arts in rehabilitation, mental health, and medicine. Expressive therapies are coming into their own through theoretical foundations, methodologies, training, and professional associations. Research is catching up to what the human heart has long known: art heals.

Recently, expressive therapies have been incorporated into a variety of mental health, rehabilitative, and medical settings, and I’m honored that PuzzleArt Therapy is right there, pioneering visual perceptual therapy with a creative flair – because art heals.

Alli Berman is a Brain Fitness expert and the Eye Brain Fitness Guru. She has been an artist, author, educator, creativity consultant, workshop leader,  perceptual and sensory products and programs developer, and motivational speaker for the past 30+ years. Berman has served as an educational advisor to the American Academy for Anti-Aging Medicine for over 30 years, and she is the founder of The Art of Rehabilitation and Anti-Aging Art. She created the PuzzleArt Therapy System in collaboration with behavioral optometrist, Susan Fisher, OD, and through consultation with neuroscientists around the world. Berman uses the system herself on a daily basis to keep her own brain as healthy, engaged, and challenged as possible!