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What Is Art Therapy & How Does It Work To Help You?

A watercolor painting of a woman with green splatters on her face.

Do you want to find an outlet that can improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being?

Maybe you often find it hard to express your feelings and have been wondering about art therapy for a while? There are many benefits to art therapy and also a number of ways that you can try it.

I am going to talk about who could benefit from art therapy as well as how you can start taking part in it yourself. Firstly though, let’s take a look at an explanation of what exactly art therapy is.

What Is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is also known as expressive therapy. This sort of therapy uses art as a means of communication and lets people express and explore their thoughts and emotions.

You do not even need to be very artistic or creatively talented to take part in this therapy.

The process is that the person taking part in art therapy will use paints, chalks, and markers to do some of the following types of art therapy: draw or paint their emotions, create a stress painting, design a postcard that you will never send, create an emotion wheel, and the list goes on.

This can be really great for those who find it very hard to express their feelings verbally, children and adults alike.

Who Can Benefit From Art Therapy?

Art therapy can be great for a number of people and is perfect for all ages due to its versatility. Art Therapy can also be great if you have not had luck with verbal therapy and would like to try something new.

It can also help open up emotions you may be pushing back or not reflecting on, forcing you to notice them and try and work on them.

Art Therapy could be a great outlet for the following groups of people:

  • Those with mental health problems. It has been recommended by certain institutes that art therapy can benefit those with schizophrenia and other related conditions.
  • Those with learning difficulties. Art Therapy can be great for people with learning difficulties who may find it hard to verbalize their feelings.
  • Those with dementia. When you are using the creative part of your brain this can help with stress levels and restore a sense of personal identity, which those with dementia may be finding hard to keep.
  • Those on the autistic spectrum. Creative art can help to distract and calm people down, as well as help improve communication skills.
  • Those in the justice system. Prisoners are often asked to use art therapy to help with their feelings in a healthy way.
  • Those with a chronic/terminal illness. As mentioned before, art therapy can help with expressing feelings and it can also help patients to regain their sense of control and freedom.
  • Those who find it difficult to express their feelings. People who find this hard can use art therapy to show their emotions without too much verbal communication.

Types Of Art Therapy

Now that we have discussed who can benefit from art therapy, let’s take a look at the type of therapies you can use.

If you do not fit with any of the groups I have listed above, this does not mean you shouldn’t use art therapy. If you feel it could help you, then go ahead.

Here are the types of art therapies that you could choose from.

1. Painting


This art therapy technique is probably almost limitless. Painting can give you a great sense of freedom, being able to paint whatever you want.

Your therapist can make this a little easier for you by assigning exercises and prompts on what you can base your drawing on. You will have a blank canvas to work on, with so many possibilities.

For example, you can explore your emotions and draw whatever comes to your mind, expressing your emotions and your creative side.

2. Collaging

Collaging is where you cut and stick pictures that inspire you or express your emotions and put them all together.

This can really give you a great sense of freedom and can help you to explore your creative side without having to paint or draw.

It is your own personal art, but through collecting other pictures that best express how you feel.

Collaging is also very similar to making a vision board, which is where you make a collage of your dream life and goals.

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3. Digital Art

As times are changing now, we need new techniques to keep up with it. Digital art is where you use the computer to make your art. This could be electronically designing a collage or using drawing software to make your illustrations.

This has been said to help children, who are used to computers and phones, and made expressing their art easier for them. It also helps that the possibilities are almost endless when using digital software too, helping you express your emotions even further.

4. Photography

For those who maybe are not as keen on drawing and painting as others, photography can be a great outlet.

Most smartphones have up-to-date, HD cameras built-in! Make use of the technology you have or research into investing in a more professional camera.

You can take pictures of so many different things, such as, things you are thankful for, people who you love, or just things that you find beautiful and pleasing. Combine this idea with collaging! Print out your photographs and use them on your vision board.

Again, your art therapist can help you figure out which photography could be best for you.

5. Textiles

Using textiles in art therapy can be when you either use them as toys and puppets or if you have physical difficulties with using art suppliers due to motor skills, for example.

Using textiles can also offer softness which can help to provide comfort for you.

This can be a great way to express yourself whilst not worrying about physically having to use pen and paper.

Table Of Contents

Katherine Hurst
By Katherine Hurst
Katherine Hurst, is a Law of Attraction expert, best-selling author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on psychology, life design, structured thinking and emotional wellbeing.

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