A creative approach to change through art therapy

Sometimes it's difficult to find the words to describe your emotions or how you're feeling. Art has the potential to heal. The art-making process and creative therapies can be a reparative and holistic approach for people to develop new ways of being and relating while gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of themselves, and building on self-empowerment.


What is art therapy?

Art therapy utilises artistic creation as a tool to facilitate the expression and resolution of anxiety and emotional or psychological conflicts. Art therapy is practised in individual sessions or in small groups under the guidance of an art therapist.

Art therapy or art psychotherapy may also be used to support or as a precursor to talking therapies, as it may be easier to express yourself visually before verbally. 

Art therapy combines visual art and psychotherapy in a creative process using the created image as a foundation for self-exploration and understanding.

Thoughts and feelings often reach expression in images rather than in words. Through the use of art therapy, feelings and inner conflicts can be projected into visual form. In the creative act, conflict is re-experienced, resolved and integrated.

Art therapy/psychotherapy is a profession with more than 70 years of history that fits within the care professions. It is practised following a strict methodology and under a defined therapeutic framework or setting. This therapeutic framework and the aforementioned methodology are mainly based on the theory of art therapy, analytic group psychotherapy, dynamic psychotherapies, and contemporary art theory.

Who is art therapy for?

It can be utilised by anyone of any age, with any ability, as long as there is the willingness in the person to explore a creative or an artistic process.

The use of art media enables self-exploration and the expression of emotions in a non-verbal way. This non-verbal approach is particularly helpful for people who feel uncomfortable with more traditional “talking” therapies. 

What are the benefits of art therapy?

The advantages of art therapy/art psychotherapy are that clients can be encouraged to: 

  • express feelings a client may find difficult to verbalise
  • explore their imagination and creativity
  • develop healthy coping skills and focus
  • improve self-esteem and confidence
  • identify and clarify issues and concerns
  • increase communication skills
  • share in a safe nurturing environment
  • identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth

The psychological value of art therapies explores how past relationships and experiences affect an individual’s current circumstances. In order for this to be facilitated, a trusting relationship is built between therapist and client, and “art-making” provides a form of expression so that personal development or growth can occur in a safe and supportive environment.

Find out more about other creative therapies:

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Show comments

Find a therapist dealing with Art therapy/Art psychotherapy

All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals