Holistic Health

What Is Art Therapy? Benefits & How It’s Used To Help Heal

If you haven’t heard about Art Therapy before, you are in the right place. The old phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” indicates that a picture or artwork can express a complex idea in the same way a large amount of descriptive text can. The powerful influence of art affects humans in communication, feelings, conscience. And this is the purpose of art therapy.

Just like the music or a painting can say something in ways that almost confront description, art therapy provides individuals facing physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges with new pathways toward understanding and self-expression. 

Do you have to be an artist, to benefit from art therapy? No, art therapy uses the power of the arts and different modes of communication to get people to speak up and engage with their therapy in new ways, which may enhance healing of all kinds. 

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a kind of therapy that integrates mental health and human services by using “active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience.”

What are different types of art therapy?

Types of art therapy include:

  • painting
  • journaling
  • sketching
  • making collages
  • sculpting with clay
  • mosaics
  • collaging
  • card making
  • music therapy
  • and others

What art therapy can help with?

Some conditions that art therapy may be used to treat include:

  • Aging-related issues4
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders5
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Family or relationship problems6
  • Medical conditions
  • Psychological symptoms associated with other medical issues
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Stress
  • Substance use disorder

The most important benefits of art therapy

  • Self-discovery: Designing art can help you acknowledge and recognize feelings that have been hiding in your subconscious.
  • Self-esteem: The process will give you a feeling of self-accomplishment which can be very valuable to improve your self-appreciation and confidence.
  • Emotional release: The greatest benefit of art therapy is giving you a healthy outlet for expressing and letting go of all your feelings and fears. Complex emotions such as sadness or anger sometimes cannot be expressed with words. When you find it difficult to express yourself, making art may help you to do it.
  • Stress relief: Fighting anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or emotional trauma can be very stressful mentally and physically. Making art can be used to relieve stress and relax your mind and body. 
  • Increases mindfulness: Doing creative stuff and finding ways to express yourself artistically give you the chance to slow down, give your mind a break, and practice mindfulness. Artistic efforts can be a great way to get into a “flow state” in which you’re completely adjusted to what you’re doing, using all of your senses and paying attention to how your body feels in the moment, rather than getting caught up in your thoughts.
  • Develops fine motor skills: Art therapy is used by therapists to help develop their
    patients’ cognitive and sensorimotor functions, hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and speed.