Japanese Origami: An Effective Form of Creative Therapy?

  From wedding bouquets and Christmas decorations to heart stents and architecture, the art of origami paper folding has so many incredible applications. But does origami have any other benefits? Can Japanese origami be used as a form of creative therapy?

How does Japanese Origami Act as a Form of Creative Therapy?

When you practise origami you activate both hemispheres of your brain, the right, responsible for creativity and the left, responsible for logic. By triggering both sides of the brain, origami can effectively help us to develop motor skills, boost intellectual capacity and encourage creativity. Today, origami is not just regarded as an art form, but a type of creative therapy used by educators and occupational therapists alike. Origami therapy has proven to be particularly effective among:
  • Children
  • Those with learning difficulties or attention deficit disorder
  • The elderly
  • Stroke victims
  • Those undergoing injury rehabilitationOrigami Paper

Why is Origami Therapy Successful?

  1. Builds Attention, Patience and Focus
As origami requires detailed focus, attention, patience and concentration, it has been known to help those with ADHD. To demonstrate the effectiveness of origami as a form of art therapy, Arezou Zarei and Faramarz Malekian conducted a social experiment. In this study, a number of children with ADHD were tasked with making 16 origami creations each week. At the end of the study, the researchers found that origami had helped the children swap their erratic, aggressive and impulsive behaviour for a more concentrated and calm demeanour.
  1. Raises Self-Esteem
Unlike other forms of art which require the individual to be artistically gifted, origami can be mastered by anyone, anytime by simply following a pattern. Thanks to origami, people who previously believed that they had no artistic ability now feel a sense of pride in their creative abilities each time they craft a paper figure. In an article entitled, ‘As the Paper Folds, the Mind Unfolds’, the benefits of origami for those with learning difficulties are highlighted. According to this article, origami helps a child learn that ‘mistakes can be reversed…an improperly folded crease is not a permanent symbol of failure, since all the child needs to do is to flatten the paper and start anew’.
  1. Improves Hand-Eye Coordination and Motor Skills
Origami is commonly used as a tool to help patients suffering from immobilising injuries, such as strokes, regain control over their body. To find out more about how origami can help us recover motor skills, read this inspiring story.
  1. Promotes Relaxation
"I believe that origami carries the message of peace to everyone in the world. For when we use our hands effectively, our hearts are most at peace". - Akira Yoshizawa (Origami Grandmaster) A key part of any form of therapy is relaxation. While some of us can easily forget about the stresses of life, others find it more difficult. Through sitting quietly and concentrating on creating beautiful paper figures, origami can help us to overcome this difficulty and conjure a sense of balance and peace. Whatever your drive, be it a love of crafts, a desire to learn a new skill or an interest in Japanese culture, invest in some origami or washi paper today and get creative! For some tips on choosing the right origami paper for your project and instructions, ideas and inspiration for your next creation, check out our blog.
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