The benefits of art therapy

Art therapy is a form of integrative therapy that helps individuals heal through creative expression. It involves using different art forms and mediums to help people communicate and explore their experiences. Art therapy is used in a variety of settings for individuals, couples, families, and groups to support the mental health and physical conditions of people of all ages.

This article discusses the techniques and benefits of art therapy and provides insights on what to consider when seeking this type of therapy.


In art therapy, people explore and express their thoughts, emotions, experiences, and perceptions of themselves through art. It provides a safe, unbiased and controlled environment in which you can begin to grow and heal.

This type of treatment is usually applied in the following settings:

  • School
  • Hospital
  • private practice
  • community-based program
  • Outpatient center
  • Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Art therapy supports people with:

  • anxiety
  • frustrated
  • autism
  • trauma
  • pressure
  • Substance use
  • cancer
  • traumatic brain injury
  • Cognitive impairment of varying degrees, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

Types of mental health treatment


Therapists can use and recommend a variety of media and materials to help patients communicate and express themselves. Music, drama, dance, painting, and writing therapy are types of art therapy.

Some techniques used in art therapy include, but are not limited to:

  • storytelling
  • play music
  • photography
  • drawing or graffiti
  • University
  • wood, copper or metal products
  • handicrafts such as embroidery or knitting
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art therapy activities

A person can engage in creative activities at home. Examples of activities include:

  • Write or create a drawing of a safe place
  • draw self-portrait
  • draw or draw your mood
  • Play a song that reflects your mood


A review of multiple studies on the effectiveness of art therapy suggests that it can improve quality of life and a person’s ability to manage psychological symptoms, medical and age-related conditions, daily challenges, stress, and burnout.

Art therapy is tailored to your needs and focused on personal goals and well-being.

Some of the benefits of engaging in art therapy include:

  • Reduce symptoms of acute and chronic mental health conditions
  • Improve ability to manage acute and chronic diseases
  • Improve cognitive and sensorimotor function
  • Improve self-esteem and self-awareness
  • Build resilience
  • strengthen social skills
  • Provide healthy self-expression
  • Help work through stressful and traumatic events

Another review on art therapy pointed to a study showing that people with depression saw improvements in social functioning three months after participating in a drawing group. The same study also mentioned an art therapy program that was effective in reducing depressive symptoms in prisoners.

These findings suggest that art therapy can benefit diverse populations by improving well-being.

what to expect

As with any treatment, a therapist will likely start with an evaluation, which includes understanding your psychiatric and medical history. Additionally, you and your healthcare provider will discuss concerns and goals and decide together where to start.

Throughout therapy, patients and therapists may talk about what they are creating, their process, what they have in mind, what they know about themselves, and more.

No artistic experience required

Contrary to popular belief, art therapy does not require art. Instead, the therapist may suggest strategies to help people begin to examine their experiences.

getting Started

Here are a few things to consider when seeking art therapy:

  • Find a professional with education and training in art therapy. Art therapists have at least a master’s degree and meet the criteria established by the Art Therapy Credentials Committee. Certified art therapists can be found on their website.
  • Some insurance plans may cover art therapy. Consulting an insurance company can help find a therapist and determine coverage.
  • After identifying potential providers, request a consultation. Ask questions about their background and training and how they work with patients.
  • Before diving, make sure it feels right. Part of this process may include sharing information about the issue to ensure their training matches your needs.


Combining dance, drama, music, writing and more, art therapy supports people in managing mental health and medical conditions. Art therapy can help people learn to communicate effectively, express themselves, and heal. Finding a professional with professional education and training in art therapy is a good first step.

VigorTip words

You don’t have to be naturally artistic to take advantage of art therapy. Art therapy can provide you with activities to better understand yourself and your relationship to others and the world. It can be a creative way to help you find meaning and heal from everyday stress, traumatic events, and conditions that affect your physical and mental health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can art therapy help with trauma?

    Art therapy can help people process and heal trauma. For example, a therapist may recommend integrated art therapy to help you express thoughts and feelings related to your trauma. This often enables you to safely examine trauma in an unbiased manner.

  • Does Art Therapy Really Work?

    Yes. Research shows that art therapy can help improve the quality of life for people with mental health or medical conditions. Exploring inner experiences can help reduce symptoms and improve personal well-being and relationships. Additionally, art therapy works well in combination with other forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

  • How long does it take to see results from art therapy?

    Everyone’s experience with art therapy is different. An art therapist will contact you during the session to discuss progress. While some may start feeling the benefits sooner, others may need more time to explore what they have created.