What is art therapy and how can you use it to improve your mental health and well-being?

What is art therapy

To put simply, art therapy is a way for someone to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions in a creative and constructive way, this is useful when people struggle to verbalize their mental state. Art therapy usually consists of three things, the artist, the art and an art therapist, the therapist will work with the client (artist) to help them understand what their pictures might mean.
Man doing art therapy

Art therapy for mental illnesses

There is an array of mental illnesses out there and they often get progressively worse if not managed. Art therapy is a great way to help someone who is suffering with mental issues for example, someone with PTSD may have repressed memories of a traumatic experience and memories are often stored in the form of images, making it easier to be expressed through art. Art therapy allows you to tap into your subconscious mind and have a better understanding of oneself. Art therapy is be used for many mental illnesses as a way of relieving tension but, it can also be used for non-clinical condition such as low mood. Below we have listed some of the uses of art therapy.

Art therapy can be used for:

  • Treating depression
  • Helping people deal with long term illnesses
  • Treating anxiety
  • Communication tool for someone with schizophrenia
  • Unveiling repressed memories
  • Managing anger issues
Girl with mental health issues who can't workout her feelings

Types of art therapy

Art therapies can be very effective when compared to talking therapies as more senses can be used, you can feel, see, touch and even hear the materials and tools in which you choose to use. Your mind and body connect to create the artwork that you are thinking of. Art therapy can be done in groups, individually, partners and families. When engaging in art therapies both sides of the brain are used, you can access your more creative side in the art and then your more critical mind when exploring what it means. Below are some different types of art therapy and ways of engaging in them.

  • Origami of what is important to you
  • Using clay to sculpt a model of something you dislike (clay is like a stress ball)
  • Painting a picture with water colors of your emotions
  • Finger painting what you see in your head
  • Crossing out words in a book and leaving the ones that explain how you feel
  • Painting a rainbow with the colors that express your emotions
  • Drawing a scribble and then making a picture out of it
  • Painting “emotion monsters”
  • Paper mache of your face and then one of what think about
  • Collage your problems
  • Draw a self portrait of when you are sad
  • Paint a landscape
  • Make a story out of sand
  • Nail pins into a board and then make a picture by wrapping string around them

Benefits of art therapy

There are many benefits of art therapy, for both the mind and the body which we will go through now.
  • Outlet for feelings
  • Positive coping skills
  • Reduces symptoms of pain
  • Anxiety relief
  • Stress management and relaxation
  • Self awareness and discovery
  • Improved cognition
  • Builds self esteem
  • Better communication with others
  • Creating a flow state
Left and right hemisphere of the breain, critical mind and creative mind

Art therapy activity

Art therapy worksheet

Before we start, I would like to make it clear that I am not an art therapist, psychiatrist or an expert in any facet of psychology, however I do have a love for art and actively study psychology. The activities in this journal are based off real therapies by the professionals and can be done on your own, if you would like a more in-depth analysis, I advise that you speak to a certified art therapist.

Before you start creating

What you need

You will need some art supplies. For this worksheet we advise that you either use paint, oil pastels or colored pencils, it’s up to you. You also need to print of the journal that should have been sent to your email, if you can’t see it, refresh your page and if it’s still not there, look in your junk mail and get us out of there!

Your environment

Try and go somewhere quiet where you’re not going to be distracted, get comfortable in a room where you can be alone with your thoughts and feelings. If you don’t deal well with complete silence and it makes you start to feel a bit anxious, you can put some lofi beats on in the background.

Be mindful

Before you start painting, you also need to put yourself in a reflective state of mind, you need to get in touch with your emotions. One way that you can enter a deeper state of consciousness is through using a mindfulness meditation. Sit down and start breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, once you’ve done this for a few minutes, you can then begin your task.

The thought bubble

To start this exercise, close your eyes and get in touch with how you feel, think about how you feel in the present moment, what emotions are you experiencing?
ask yourself, if this feeling had a color or a multitude of colors what would they be? What shape, temperature, weight, and even texture does this feeling have.
Now, put this onto the paper inside your bubble, don’t over think it. If you don’t know where to start, just put your brush or pencil on the paper and see where your hand takes you. It’s important to understand that you aren’t judging your art, instead, you’re trying to explore what your art is trying to tell you so, don’t worry about how good it looks.

Here’s my thought bubble

How to analyze your thought bubble

To analyze this piece of art, you are going to answer the prompts, by writing them into your reflection journal, which are both provided in the worksheet. We’ll go through them with you now, using my artwork as an example.
Prompt 1: What do you see in the image you created? Describe how it looks, is there any shapes or hidden pictures? Does it look like anything in particular?
My thought bubble has a yellow wave shape in it, which could represent the strong motivation and energy I have for my business.
Prompt 2: What do you think the image is trying to tell you? If the image could speak to you, what would it say? Are there any insights into your life that you could gain from this?
As I said already, in my image there is a huge wave that represents my energy, however, there seems to be some obstacles holding it from it’s full potential which could be the blockages that I keep facing in my work and life.
Prompt 3: Describe the art, from the arts point of view. What is going on in the picture? You can start of by writing “I am a piece of art and i.”
For my artwork, I could write, “I am a painting and I have lots of energy and power in my waves but, I need to learn how to channel this into breaking down the obstacles in my way.

The happy anatomy

This one’s quite simple, before you start painting, write down the things in your life that make you feel happy and / or supported into a list (you can use the lines next to the body.) you could write success, family or friends, anything that is important and has an impact on your life.
Now assign a color to yourself and some other colors to represent the things on your list.
After you’ve set up, put a circle in the center with the color you chose as “your color”, then paint the body with the colors that you choose to represent the things in your life. Color in wherever it resonates with you, you can fill it up, paint circles and even go outside the lines if it feels right!
Here’s mine

How to analyze your piece of art

To analyze this piece of art, you are going to answer the prompts, by writing them into your reflection journal, which are both provided in the worksheet. We’ll go through them with you now, using my artwork as an example.
Prompt 1: What is the most important thing on your list? Think about what has had the most impact on your life and if it wasn’t there what would life be like.
Mine is probably relationships with family, friends and you guys, as I feel like I wouldn’t be where I am today without these people.
Prompt 2: Where did you paint the most important thing on your list? Often, we put the most important things towards the center of our pictures.
I drew a line at the waist of my body, which could mean that I see my relationships as a foundation for all the other things on my list.
Prompt 3: Does the placement represent anything in your life? Sometimes you may paint the things on your list, in a place where it makes sense for example, when you were upset as a child, did your parents pat you on the head? If so, you may of painted your family color in the head area.
I didn’t notice anything about the placement of where I painted but, if you can see anything, let me know.
Prompt 4: What colors did you use? The colors you use in your art work, can often represent your feelings behind them.
Mine are quite common, red for relationships e.g. love and green for success e.g. money.

Let go page

With many adult coloring books and exercises your limited to what you can do, you have to stay in the lines, use certain colors and follow the rules but with the let go page, you can express your feelings and create whatever you want, it doesn’t have to be orderly, let your pencil or brush do the talking and have some fun, because that’s what art is all about.
You could draw lines, faces, patterns, flowers landscape or even yourself if you choose to.
Here’s what I created

How to analyze this piece of work

To analyze this piece of art, you are going to answer the prompts, by writing them into your reflection journal, which are both provided in the worksheet. We’ll go through them with you now, using my artwork as an example. There is more analyzing you can do in this piece, as you have had more creative control over it.
Prompt 1: What would you name this piece of art? Give it meaning by giving it a name. 
I would name my art work let go!
Prompt 2: What feeling words could you use to describe your work? If you had one word to describe it what would it be, sadness, happiness, anger or confusion as an example.
I would use the word nervous to describe my artwork.
Prompt 3: What are the physical words you could use to describe this piece? What one sensation word Comes to mind when looking at your picture? Hot, cold claustrophobic or free as an example.
Heavy is the word I would use.
Prompt 4: Does it remind you of anything? Have you been here before? What is it? Can you see a person?
My picture is clearly of space and an astronaut.
Prompt 5: Is there anything odd in your picture? This question can give you an insight on what might be wrong in your life, if you notice something is out of place or just doesn’t make sense.
The small object seems to be really heavy compared to it's size.
Prompt 6: What sizes are the objects in my image? This may suggest the importance or impact it is having on your life.
The image that the astronaut is reaching for is but. What he is holding on to is small.
Prompt 7: What’s in the center of your picture? This might show a core problem or the most prominent thing in your mind.
The astronaut and the small planet-like object.
Prompt 8: From what perspective did you draw the image? Did you draw it from a birds eye view? From the side? How far away was it? If there is inconsistencies in your image, there might be in your life to.
From the side but, very far away.
Prompt 9: What would it feel like if you were in the picture? What would you see? What would you notice? What would you feel?
Quite scary really, the astronaut is so close but, yet so far away.
Prompt 10: What does it mean to you? Once you’ve answered all the other questions, think about what it means to you, what is it trying to teach you?
With this picture and my thought bubble I feel like it could be representing me for example, the astronaut is holding on to something so small but yet so heavy, whilst trying to reach for something bigger. For me I need to "let go" of the small stuff in order to reach my goals. 
If you enjoyed these activities and would like more, we strongly recommend that you invest in an art therapy book like this one below.

 Art therapy exercise book for mental illnesses

By understanding your thoughts and feelings on a better level, you can begin to mold them into creating the behavior which you desire, meaning that you can choose how you act and your attitude towards things.
Some of the links in this blog may be affiliate links which means you can purchase the product and I will make a commission of it but IT WILL NOT be at an extra cost to you, any money I make through this is put towards the upkeep and improvement of this blog. Thank you in advance, Jake.
If you have any further questions, remarks or requests for what you would like to see more of, you can comment here on the blog, or message us on our social media channels below.
Brain boosted Pinterest  Brain boosted Instagram Brain boosted facebook

118 comments

  • The entire team is fantastic. Friendly, knowledgable, bilingual, and professional service! I’ve been coming in for a level 2 MCL tear in my right knee, and I’m seeing 100% improvement in strength and movement.

    Physical Therapist Clinic at Ballwin MO
  • I really want to thank Dr Emu for saving my marriage. My wife really treated me badly and left home for almost 3 month this got me sick and confused. Then I told my friend about how my wife has changed towards me. Then she told me to contact Dr Emu that he will help me bring back my wife and change her back to a good woman. I never believed in all this but I gave it a try. Dr Emu casted a spell of return of love on her, and my wife came back home for forgiveness and today we are happy again. If you are going through any relationship stress or you want back your Ex or Divorce husband you can contact his whatsapp +2347012841542 or email emutemple@gmail.com website: Https://emutemple.wordpress.com/

    Ric Clayton
  • My wish right now is that God should continue to bless Dr Emu for his good works towards the life of those people who are heart broken. My name is Michael DeBruin and I am from the USA, it’s been a while since my lover’s attitude changed from being the caring type she has been to me, but later turned out not to be caring at all. But not long, I later discovered that my lover was having an affair with someone else. and also she told me she doesn’t need me after all we pass through then a friend told me about a spell caster. that with the spell I will get back my woman, I took his cell number then called him and also what’s-app him which he reply to me and I did some sacrifices to the spell man and he bought the items for me which he used for the sacrifices and later called me that before 48 hours my love will come back to me and now we are more in love with each other than ever. you can reach him on WhatsApp +2347012841542 or reach him via mail ; emutemple@gmail.com , my lover returned back and broke up with the other guy she was having a relationship with… Thank you Dr Emu.

    Https://emutemple.wordpress.com/

    Https://web.facebook.com/Emu-Temple-104891335203341

    Michael DeBruin
  • I never use to believe in spell casting until i met Lord Zuma a powerful spell caster who helped me to be a happy person again. My name is Rose Marco and i reside in USA. After 4 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids. I felt like my life was about to end and i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a Great spell caster called Lord Zuma which i met online on one faithful day when I was browsing through the internet, i came across a lot of testimonies about this particular Great spell caster how he has helped so many people. he has helped people to bring back their Ex lover, some testified that he restores womb, cure cancer and other sickness, and so on. I also came across a testimony, it was about a woman called Sandra, she testified about how his spell made her to be pregnant after so many years of bareness and at the end of her testimony she dropped Lord Zuma’s email address. After reading all these, i decided to give it a try and i contacted him and explained my problem to him and he assured me that in less than 48 hours, my husband will call me and beg for forgiveness but i thought it will not work. When he had finished casting the spell, the next day my husband called me and he was begging for forgiveness just as Lord Zuma said. This is not brain washing and after the spell has been cast, i realized that my husband love me like never before and the spell caster opened him up to know how much i love him and how much love we need to share. We are even happier now than before. Lord Zuma is really a gifted man and i will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man. If you have a problem and you are looking for a real and a genuine spell caster to solve all your problems contact Lord Zuma now on spiritualherbalisthealing@gmail.com or just visit https://spiritualherbal.blogspot.com and see so many he has helped that are testifying about his good work. He will help you solve all your problems. Once again thank you Lord Zuma for your good deeds. His whatsapp number +1 506 800 1647
    Rose Marco
  • Hello to everyone out here, I am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me … My name is Susan Christian , I live in London, UK. we got married for more than 9 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do, i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr Emu for the return of my husband to me, they told me that my husband have been taken by another woman, that she cast a spell on him that is why he hate me and also want us to divorce. then they told me that they have to cast a spell on him that will make him return to me and the kids, they casted the spell and after 24 hours my husband called me and he told me that i should forgive him, he started to apologize on phone and said that he still live me that he did not know what happen to him that he left me. it was the spell that he Dr Emu casted on him that make him come back to me today, me and my family are now happy again today. thank you Dr Emu for what you have done for me i would have been nothing today if not for your great spell. i want you my friends who are passing through all this kind of love problem of getting back their husband, wife , or ex boyfriend and girlfriend to contact Dr Emu ,if you need his help you can contact him through his private mail: emutemple@gmail.com or you can contact him through his website https://emutemple.wordpress.com/ fb page Https://web.facebook.com/Emu-Temple-104891335203341 and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay.

    Susan Christian

Leave a comment

Name .
.
Message .