What Is Art Therapy And How Can It Help Enhance Your Mental Health?

What Is Art Therapy, And How Does It Work?

Art has been an integral part of the human experience for thousands of years now with people relying on arts for expression, communication and healing. The artistic methods used to enhance mental health are known as art therapy. It is an artistic method to enhance a person’s physical, psychological and mental well-being. Earlier it was used mainly by mental health practitioners, but now it has moved outside of mental health facilities into other community settings such as schools, shelters homes, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and halfway homes.

Various studies have found that individuals living with mental illness often expressed themselves better with drawings and other artworks, which led to many doctors exploring the use of art as a healing strategy. You don’t need to be an artist to receive the benefits of this therapy. There are professional therapists who are trained to conduct these sessions, which is suitable for people of all ages. Just like any other therapy, this is also a therapeutic process used to improve one’s self-esteem and resolve other psychological conflicts.

6 Benefits of Art Therapy

Art therapy has the ability to open up emotions that you have been holding back. Studies published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association in 2016, shows that less than an hour of creative activity can reduce your stress and have positive effects on your mental health.

Through these different types of art therapy, people have started discovering something about themselves they didn’t know before. Here let us take a look at some of the important pieces of this healing process.

Stress Relief

Fighting anxiety, depression or emotional trauma is very stressful, both mentally and physically. It helps to relieve stress, anxiety and relaxes your mind and body.

types of art therapy
Types of Art therapies that can help you reduce stress Source: medicalnewstoday.com

Stress Relief

Fighting anxiety, depression or emotional trauma is very stressful, both mentally and physically. It helps to relieve stress, anxiety and relaxes your mind and body.


It helps to recognize feelings that have been lurking in your subconscious mind. It forces you to notice these feelings and work on them.

Communication Skills

For those who struggle with sharing their thoughts and feelings, this creative expression therapy can help foster self-expression. It can also help in developing skills to reach out and connect with others.

Build Self-Esteem

It helps build the confidence needed to tackle life events. This will give you a feeling of self-accomplishment which can be very valuable to improve your confidence.

Positive Approach

It can encourage positivity in people’s lives. Behavioural therapy helps people to focus on positive things while keeping their minds off negative thoughts.

Emotional Release

The greatest benefit of art therapy is letting go of all your feelings and fears. This therapy allows complex emotions such as sadness or anger to be released and decreases levels of depression. It has been observed that art therapy for depression and anxiety is at an all-time high during the pandemic.

General Understanding About What Happens During An Art Therapy Session

Art is a powerful tool for emotional outlet and this is why it’s very important to have a qualified art therapist to gain maximum benefits from this art therapy counselling. There are no fixed steps in art therapy sessions; this may vary from person to person. Your first session will basically be getting to know each other, building a relationship between the therapist and patients. Together, you will come up with a treatment plan to work on. Your therapist may suggest a few themes to begin exploring through drawing, painting, collage, music therapy or another medium that you are comfortable with. However, data shows that 36.8% of treatment programs offered art therapy and 14.7% of programs offered music therapy with 11.7% using both. Your therapist may simply observe while you are at work and may ask about your experience and feel when you have finished a piece of artwork or sometimes while you are still working on it. The focus will be more on the process rather than creating a finished art product. 

Types of Art Therapy Activities

There are many simple art therapy techniques; however, here we will focus on some of the most popular forms of therapy that are used in therapy sessions.


Painting techniques of art therapy are probably the most limitless ones. Creating images on a blank canvas using acrylic paints, watercolours, spray painting, mandala therapy and more. It gives you a great sense of freedom by allowing you to draw whatever comes to your mind. You can explore and express your emotions by bringing out the creative side in you. Paint supplies and techniques may not be familiar to many of the clients; however, your therapist can make this a little easier for you by assigning exercises and giving clues on what your drawing can be based on.

different types of art therapy
different types of art therapy that can leave you relaxed Source: pinotspalette.com


This therapy is considered a safe way to express thoughts and feelings compared to painting as it focuses less on invention and more on construction. This is ideal for clients who are having difficulty starting tasks and making decisions. Collage involves cutting and sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper that best express how you feel. Art supplies include patterned papers, magazines, stamps, brayers, and adhesive. Additional supplies like pens, pencils and paints can also be used to add other important expressions to complete the picture.

different types of art therapy
Therapy for you to relax Source: pinterest.com


The current favorite techniques of this therapy among clients are Photography therapy that allows the client to incorporate memories, past images and the digital manipulation of those images. For those who are not keen on drawing or painting, photography can be a great option. Clients can use photos from their lives to help stimulate memories such as, people who you love, things you are thankful for, or just things that you like or find pleasing. Supplies include a digital camera, a Smartphone or old photographs. Photos can be transformed with more therapy techniques or using digital technology. Your therapist can help you figure out the best for you.

types of art therapy activities
Therapy for your mind Source: micheleconklin.com


It is also known as family sculpting as this therapy typically involves family members using clay modelling to make statues of each other. The main benefit of sculpture is that it shows the client that situations are multi-dimensional and can be approached from different points of view. Supplies used are modelling clay and carving tools to form a sculpture of their loved ones. Generally, married couples, parents with their children attend these sessions together with a therapist to create sculptures using a set of instructions. This technique helps the therapist to gain insight into the family’s dynamics in order to assist them through therapy.

art therapy
Therapy for mind

Source: pinterest.ca

Check out the nine cardinal human emotions here on Cece Streams.


Writing therapy is effective in reducing stress, improving health and increasing positivity. These types of art therapy activities involve the client writing in a journal and then creating art on top of the journal as a way of letting go of the content in the writing. Supplies required are pen, paper or general art supplies depending on how the client incorporates writing into their project. Using writing in this therapy can help the client bring together their overall thoughts and feelings about a particular issue.

art therapy activities
Relax yourself with these tips for art therapies Source: arttherapyresources.com.au

Art Therapy For Kids – Can They Benefit From This?

It is one of the safest ways for children to express their feelings and emotions. Kids who have trouble expressing their thoughts and feelings through verbal communication use art to display what they feel. Often it helps kids express things that they are afraid to speak out loud. It indicates the child’s mental state, perception, general awareness, mood and other issues. From practice and experiences the art therapists feel that children have always shown thrill and excitement when art tools are used during therapy sessions. This kind of creative therapy has become popular as it improves the child’s growth and development, especially for children with disorders or special needs. Art therapy for kids is a form of expression not only of the conscious mind but also for the subconscious mind. 

You don’t necessarily have to see a therapist to experience some of these art therapies. These different types of art therapies can be tried from the comfort of your home too through art therapy online classes or art therapy books. It doesn’t matter which art therapy course you choose, the only thing that matters is that one should feel comfortable doing it.


FAQ’s On Art Therapy

Q: What art therapy can help with? 

A: Art therapy helps in expressing feelings and treating issues such as depression, anxiety, stress and even some phobias.

Q: How art therapy helps ease pain?

A: It helps lower the perception of pain by moving your mental focus away from the painful stimulus.

Q: Who can use art therapy?

A: From Adults to children, anyone who is seeking emotional, creative or spiritual growth can use art therapy.

Q: What are the disadvantages of art therapy?

A: There are no known disadvantages of art therapy, but it may be harmful if the therapist is not skilled.

Q: Who are art therapists?

A: An art therapist is a mental health professional who has a deep knowledge of the human mind and body. He uses different creative processes to improve the mental and emotional well-being of people.


Leave a Reply