In recent years, comics have become one of the most popular mediums in the world. What started out as niche interest has exploded into a widely accepted phenomenon that connects people across generations. But comics can be used for more than entertainment purposes. Graphic novels can be used as therapy aids, helping those who have physical and mental disorders. As a therapeutic tool, comics have a range of benefits, which is why the The Comic Vault is looking into how they can be used for therapy.
When used for medical purposes, comics fall under art therapy and graphic medicine. The concept of graphic medicine centres around combining art and text with therapy based techniques to help patients work through their issues. Graphic medicine works on the tenants of compassion and understanding, helping a patient to develop coping strategies or improve their mental well-being.
What kinds of comic therapy are out there?
One kind of comic therapy involves patients creating their own comic or graphic novel. This involves working with a therapist, family member or support group to explore the mediums of art and text. It means a patient looks beyond text-based storytelling in order to create something that helps with the healing process.
If someone is suffering from mental health issues, then they can be encouraged to create a comic that’s based on their own experiences. This gives them the opportunity to rewrite their own story and do things differently. This could possibly lead to an emotional breakthrough, as the comic medium provides a safe environment where there are no consequences to to the patient’s actions. A good way to start is by developing the characters and deciding how you can apply your experiences to them.
A traditional kind of comic therapy is by reading a graphic novel and connecting with the characters. Not only are superheroes great role models, they act as a reflection of society. A superhero like Captain America is an inspiration for hope. But patients can also see their issues reflected in a character, whether it be physical or mental.
For example, a cancer sufferer could read The Mighty Thor and connect with Jane Foster, who was battling cancer. Despite her illness, Jane took on the mantle of Thor and used her remaining time to make the world a safer place. Jane’s journey could inspire strength within the reader and help them find a silver lining within their own life.
Many superheroes suffer with mental health issues, demonstrating how relatable they are. Hank Pym suffers from bipolarism and a host of other disorders, but he’s also one of the smartest people in comics. It’s a reminder that mental health disorders shouldn’t hold you back from living your life to the fullest.
Benefits of comic therapy
The therapeutic benefits of comics are wide-ranging, with graphic novels being an excellent form of escapism. The story can act as a stress reliever and help a patient feel more at ease with their surroundings.
Reading a comic can also lead to feelings of happiness and acceptance, as an individual is likely to see their own struggles seen in a different format. As the hero overcomes their problems, the reader feels inspired to move forward as well.
Comics also encourage creativity and a patient may decide they want to explore other forms of writing. This could take the form of a journal where a patient writes down their emotions in order to better understand what’s going on inside them.
Comics are a valuable tool in therapy, helping readers to feel inspired and accepted. If a patient is able to connect with a single character then that’s a small step forward, and in my opinion that is the essence of therapy. By taking it one step at a time, patients and their therapists are able to work together to reach a breakthrough.
(This is a sponsored post written for betterhelp.com)