What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a mental health profession that utilizes the creative arts to improve mental health and well-being.

What makes it different from doing art on your own?

 

An art therapist is trained to assess your mental health and then strategically design art activities to help you achieve your specific goals. She remains present with you during the art making, helping you to understand and process the messages of your art. 

An art therapy client using clay during an expressive art therapy session

Art therapists are also trained to observe and analyze the art making process. By watching you create, we are learning valuable information about you that informs us of appropriate next steps. 

An image of grafiti art that shows a woman connecting with different parts of herself

How is it different than talk-based therapy?

Talk therapy relies primarily on - you guessed it - talking.

 

Art therapy is a combination of art and talking. Art cuts through all of the overwhelming emotions and thoughts to get right to the heart of the matter. It connects us to our subconscious, allowing us to fully express our emotions. It connects us to our intuition, allowing us to heal old wounds, re-discover parts of ourselves, and feel more alive.

Tavi Meketon also explains how art therapy creates lasting change in her article about art therapy.

What kind of art do you do?

Art therapy involves all forms of art - from clay to painting to poetry and more! I might ask you to crush clay or scribble across a page. Other times you might create a collage or simple stick figure drawing. The focus is not on the end product. It's about how the art lets you express emotions and connect with parts of yourself.

An image of a woman creating art during an art therapy session
A woman painting during an art therapy session

What if someone sucks at art?

 

Almost every client has told me, "I can barely draw stick figures!" And that is just fine with me.

 

Art therapy is not about perfect artistic form or realistic images. I love working with people who have no experience with art. It is so fun to connect them with a new form of expression! 

It has been my experience that people who are introduced to something new often create directly from their heart - which is exactly the connection we want. I tailor every art activity to meet the client's artistic skill, interest, creativity, and desired personal growth.