What Is Art Therapy?

Photo, Helena Lopes.


What Is Art Therapy?

You may have heard of it, but not fully understand what it is. Discover more about what art therapy is and how it can help you...

Art and its many forms can be an extremely fun and fulfilling way for people to express themselves, and its therapeutic properties have been formalised and used to help people cope and overcome various mental health concerns that they may be having. This article will discuss art therapy and what it entails, and how it may be able to enrich your life.

What Is Art Therapy and What Can It Do for You?

Photo, Laura Chouette.

How To Define Art Therapy: As mentioned in the introduction, art is inherently an activity that is therapeutic, and it gives people a creative outlet that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment, which can improve a person’s self-esteem and reduce their stress, so what makes it different from art therapy? Art therapy is a formal approach to using art to help people through countless other mental health issues. It doesn’t consist of just art by itself; rather, it also incorporates psychotherapy techniques, and therefore, art therapy is generally guided by a professional who will create a plan for you. Professionals who practice art therapy are trained in both practices; they understand art, but they are also educated in psychology and the fields within it.

At its core, art therapy is psychotherapy, but it relies on the expressiveness and symbolism that comes with creating art. Not everyone can express themselves easily through words, but art provides them an avenue to do so because it can stimulate their visual senses and kinesthetic abilities. Below you can find an article consisting of quotes from famous individuals who find therapy in many different activities, and art just happens to be one of many possibilities.


Any type of visual art is viable in this type of creative therapy, and clients are free to choose which methods they prefer most. Drawing, colouring, painting, sculpting, and photography are amongst the most popular ways that people choose to express themselves through art therapy.

What Is Art Therapy and What Can It Do for You?

Photo, Jade Scarlato.

Where Is Art Therapy Most Effective? Art therapy is useful and can provide relief for just about any mental health issue that people face. It’s designed to help improve a person’s emotional state of mind through expression, just like how music therapy can. Any issue that creates distress is a good candidate for being treated with art therapy, and some examples of mental health conditions that can see remarkable improvement from it include:

What Is Art Therapy and What Can It Do for You?

Photo, Olga Guryanova.

— Anxiety disorders
— Depression
— Eating disorders
— Substance addiction
— Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
— Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
— Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
— Autism spectrum disorder
— Dementia

As you can see, virtually any mental health disorder can be helped through art, and anyone of any age can benefit from trying it out. It’s important to note that you don’t need to have talent in art in order to enjoy this form of therapy. Its goal is to let you be creative and express yourself as you are, not to necessarily teach you to become an artist. However, if you become a more skilled artist in the process, which is entirely possible, consider that a bonus, and who knows, you may find a hobby or passion that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

Conclusion: This type of therapy can be just what you need to change your life for the better by giving you a way to explore yourself, and by creating art, you and your therapist can interpret what you’ve created, which can then help resolve issues that you are currently struggling with in a fun and engaging way. Hopefully, this article has shown you just how art therapy can be effective and perhaps you can consider this fun and innovative form of psychotherapy as a means of helping you improve, reach your goals, and live a happier life.

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.