The Healing Power of Art Therapy

For thousands of years, people have used art as a form of self-expression, a way to process and communicate their emotional truths to the world. Creative expression is a fundamental part of the human experience, and increasingly it’s being recognized for its therapeutic benefit.


Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that encourages individuals to express their thoughts and feelings through creativity rather than speech, to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Art therapy can help individuals coping with mental health issues, trauma, grief, addiction, serious medical conditions, or disabilities:

  • explore and understand their emotions
  • develop interpersonal skills
  • manage behaviour
  • reduce stress
  • increase self-esteem
  • achieve insight

Art Therapists work with groups or on a one-on-one basis in a variety of settings including private counseling, hospitals, schools, prisons, senior communities, community centres, and rehab facilities.

No artistic talent is necessary for art therapy to be successful, because the therapeutic process is not about the artistic value of the work, but rather how the individual chooses to express themselves, and the examination of the psychological and emotional undertones revealed in their artwork.  The artwork is used to decode nonverbal messages, symbols, and metaphors that can lead to better understanding of their feelings and actions, providing the opportunity for emotional growth and behavioural change.


Art therapy can encompass a wide variety of artistic pursuits. Common forms of art therapy include:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Colouring
  • Sculpting
  • Collage
  • Scrapbooking
  • Photography
  • Graphic Novels
  • Digital Art

Art therapy projects can have a specific assignment or be abstract.

An art therapy assignment designed to deliver a specific result, will typically include a question that the individual is to answer creatively.  Examples include: What does your safe space look like?  Or, If you could create your ideal self, what would that look like?

Abstract art assignments encourage individuals to create art that expresses their thoughts or feelings without a specific intent.  Just to create something new.


Emotional Release and Exploration

A great benefit of art therapy is an individual’s ability to explore and release strong emotions without words. Many people struggle to express their private and painful feelings and experiences verbally.  Art therapy gives these individuals the ability to communicate in a way that feels safe.  Creating art can also be a way to regulate and improve emotions, particularly feelings of depression and anxiety.

Stress Reduction

Art therapy is an effective coping mechanism for relieving stress. Creating art requires concentration, and an attention to detail that creates a healthy distraction from overwhelming and intrusive thoughts. Art therapy provides a mental escape.

Personal Enrichment and Increased Self-Esteem

Art therapy isn’t just a way of processing negative experiences and feelings, it also helps individuals explore and visualize their authentic self while developing new creative abilities that can be deeply rewarding.  Through artistic creation, individuals can create a sense of accomplishment, self-awareness, and joy that builds self-esteem and increased feelings of self-worth.


For people in addiction treatment, formalized art therapy can be integral to the healing process, by creating new levels of self-understanding and self-reflection, and by using the creative process as a springboard for social connection and revitalization. Others in recovery may find that having a creative outlet helps them reduce stress, and the temptation to use.  Learning new skills and having pride in something one has created also improves an individual’s self-confidence and self-esteem.


To learn more about art therapy, look for a registered art therapist in your community.

At The Farm Rehab we’re committed to providing advanced mental health and addiction treatment to our patients. If you or a loved one needs help, give us a call at 1-877-353-2777 to discuss our treatment options.  We can help you make an informed choice about your care.


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