What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that uses artistic methods to address various psychological disorders and improve overall wellbeing. It is rooted in the belief that creative expression can promote healing and mental wellbeing. Art is used to help people explore their various emotions, develop self-awareness, boost self-esteem, cope with the stress of everyday life, and work on social skills.

Art therapy integrates several psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process to help with the improvement of mental health and wellbeing. The main goal of art therapy is to help people explore self-expression by utilizing their creative process, find new ways to gain personal insight and develop new coping skills.

The techniques that are usually used in art therapy include drawing, coloring, painting, sculpting, or collage. By creating art, a person may express their innermost feelings and analyse how their artwork makes them feel. Exploring their work allows them to see the conflicts that may be affecting their thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

What is art therapy?

How Does Art Therapy Work?

People do not need to have an intrinsic artistic ability, or a special talent, to participate in art therapy. People of all ages can benefit from it. Art therapy can either be creating or viewing other artworks. Participants are allowed to use their preferred art media and work at their own pace without the fear of being judged. Some research suggests that the arts play an important part in boosting mental health.

Art therapy can be used in treating various mental disorders and psychological distress that affect:

  • Children with learning disabilities
  • Children suffering from behavioral or social problems at home or at school 
  • Individuals who suffer from a brain injury
  • People experiencing mental health problems
  • People who have experienced a traumatic event
  • Adults experiencing severe stress

What Are the Benefits of Art Therapy?

Art therapy aims to help people through emotional and psychological difficulties. It's no different to other types of therapies that are solution-oriented, except that in art therapy, an individual works through their issues by making art rather than talking about them. During an art therapy session, a person gains insight into their thoughts and feelings by harnessing a creative process that is uniquely their own. This process can help with a range of mental, emotional and physical conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Fears and phobias
  • Muscle tension
  • High blood pressure
  • Some types of cancer
  • Dementia and other age-related issues
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Family or relationship problems
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Stress
  • Psychological symptoms associated with other medical issues

What Can You Expect From Art Therapy?

Art therapy is devoid of judgement because it's not the art therapist's job to interpret the artwork of their clients. They leave their clients to choose their own art materials and come up with images that represent the state of their thoughts and feelings. Afterwards, the art therapist guides them in assessing the colours, symbols and patterns that they used in relation to the current state of their thoughts and feelings.

The therapy session also includes some counselling, which usually happens before and after the client makes their art. For the most part of the session, the client will focus on art-making. Many registered art therapists offer their services online to reach out to individuals who prefer to receive therapy in the comfort of their home. 

Art therapy is a calming and liberating experience that allows an individual to keep their mind, body and emotions in the present moment. During which, they are able to use all of their senses to understand their current situation and discover new ways to make it better.

Is Art Therapy Safe?

Art therapy is a noninvasive, non-drug approach to improving mental and emotional health. It is completely safe in that it helps people of all ages move past their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and habits that aren't serving them. The act of sketching, painting, colouring, or putting together a collage, among others, is healing in nature as it empowers one to take back control of their mind, body and spirit.