This article is your guide to how you can use art therapy to improve your health and well-being
This article covers:
- What is Art Therapy?
- Different Art Therapy Techniques
- Benefits of Art Therapy for your Health and Well-being
- A Practical Guide to Using Art Therapy for Healing
- Creative Art Therapy Ideas and Exercises
- Summary and Further Reading
Most people recognize the beauty and creativity associated with art. It is something that almost everyone appreciates. However, take note that beyond the aesthetic appeal of art, it also serves as an excellent outlet designed to support one’s health, whether physical and emotional, as well as their overall well-being. In fact, art therapy is now quickly receiving traction as one of the alternative and natural treatments for psychological issues.
What’s good about art therapy is that it lets you release your emotions using a wide range of mediums. One example is painting. Another medium that you can use is clay, which is considered as a regressive medium. When using clay modeling in art therapy, the clay that you use as your medium has a unique ability of bringing up feelings and memories from your past and searches even those forgotten or buried things from your childhood. The goal of bringing up these past memories and feelings is to destroy them, so you can develop a whole new personality.
You can also use paper as a medium. In this case, you can create a paper collage, which is a basic activity that involves gathering scraps and pieces of paper then putting them together to make a unique collage. You can use the mentioned mediums as a means of exploring and expressing your feelings while boosting your self-awareness regarding your own social skills, behaviors, and certain addictions. It is a form of relief and release for anyone who practices it. It is also known to be beneficial for those suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Getting involved in arts is even a big help for cancer patients. If you want to learn more about art therapy, its benefits for your health and well-being, its different forms, and some creative ideas that you can apply then this article can help. With the contents of this article, you will be able to discover how arts can help improve your physical, mental, and emotional health.
What is Art Therapy? (and What Can You Expect from it?)
Art therapy is a popular type of psychotherapy nowadays. It makes use of art as well as artistic mediums as a means of helping people explore their emotions and thoughts in a unique manner. The main goal of this form of therapy is to utilize art as the main way to communicate. This is a big help for people who have a hard time verbalizing their emotions and feelings.
It is primarily because using physical objects, like paper and paintbrushes, greatly helps improve your connection to the world surrounding you. If you are interested in art therapy then take note that it requires you to undergo a creative process, including the use of certain mediums, like paper and clay, and techniques, like painting, drawing, clay modeling, collaging, and sculpting, in various educational and clinical settings. The goal here is to let you explore your own feelings and resolve those that you have a hard time dealing with.
What’s good about art therapy is that it is undoubtedly relaxing, creative, and fun. It is actually just a simple activity but it is powerful enough that it can work wonders in dealing with your emotions and improving your life. You can even find it useful in distancing yourself from your negative emotions and thoughts. It is also effective in releasing all your pent-up stress.
It is important to note that art therapy is different from other forms of psychological therapy. It actually serves as a 3-way process, which consists of the therapist, the client/patient, and the art created. It provides anyone with a chance for expression and creativity, so it is no longer surprising to see it being helpful in communicating those thoughts and emotions that people have a hard time verbalizing.
With such benefit, this therapy can enhance your functionality in your daily life. It also allows you to improve your sense of well-being while helping you achieve emotional and mental growth. Art therapists can also benefit from this form of therapy as it gives them a clear insight from an art piece and their client’s narrative. They can use the artwork created by their client as a clear representation of difficult and repressed emotions.
With that, they can develop further strategies that can appropriately help their client heal. This is the key to helping their patients/clients build self-awareness, address their unresolved emotional issues and conflicts, improve their self-esteem and social skills, and explore their emotions. It is particularly useful for those who are really struggling with psychological and emotional challenges.
What to Expect from an Art Therapy Session?
An art therapy session often involves a one-on-one session with a therapist. It can also be conducted within a group. You can choose between the two sessions depending on your specific needs. Also, take note that each session is usually carried out in various settings. These include community centers, hospitals, schools, private practices, and prison. An art therapy session usually takes around 1 to 1 and ½ hours. It is also crucial to attend it regularly (ex. once weekly or every two weeks).
During each session, you can choose the level of involvement you prefer. If you choose to participate in a group art therapy session then you may want to dedicate your first two sessions to just observe what the others are doing. Also, prior to the start of your therapy, ensure that you consult with your therapist so both of you can have a one-on-one discussion on your specific reason for wanting to attend the session. You should also talk about the things that you wish to attain from each session.
Once you get used to the whole process then your therapist may start asking you to display the art you created in an exhibition. Displaying your artwork is actually useful in accepting your thoughts and emotions while enjoying the feeling that others are also willing to accept you. It is mainly because you present your experiences in such a way that others can easily understand you.
You can also opt not to exhibit your art piece. In this case, you can just frame it. A lot of those who tried doing this say that it makes them feel more at peace because the frame serves as a barrier, which protects their emotions that are kept in the picture.
Each art therapy session actually aims to guide and offer counseling to those who take part in it. Each given session might also have some changes regarding the outcome, setting, and materials used. However, take note that these therapeutic concepts will remain constant and unchanged in each session:
– After you have created an art piece, it will stand independently and will be available for interpretation. It should be noted, though, that different people also have different perceptions and interpretations of a specific art. In this case, the therapy will explore one’s comprehension of what falls under self-perception and the ones that fall under global perception. Those perceptions that are frequently addressed or produced through art serve as the stepping stones in recognizing and validating your emotions.
- Personal integration
– The art therapy session actually lets you take part in a creative process, which also serves as a way for you to apply your personal experiences and release your private thoughts using a medium that’s not challenging nor threatening for you.
Doing it regularly, therefore, allows you to become more comfortable with your self-image and identity. This results from using the artistic process to make your emotions more visible, providing you with a means to conceptualize and visualize even those unrecognizable and hard to understand emotions.
- Emotional regulation
– Another concept that always remains in an art therapy session is the regulation and control of not only your emotions but also your impulses. It is mainly because each session challenges you to use your creativity as a means of channeling expression. Through arts, you get the chance to enjoy a cleansing resource to express your emotions, finally giving you more emotional control. This also makes it possible for you to regulate yourself during social situations.
- Behavioural changes/modification
– Art therapy also lets you access an alternative solution for perceiving your own behaviors. It provides you with a relaxing space designed to let you rehearse alternative responses to certain existing personal narratives. With that, you can find a way to cope and manage your own behaviors even those that you’re struggling to accept.
Those are just some of the things that you can expect from an art therapy session. All in all, the therapy revolves around improving your health and well-being through better expression and self-awareness.
Who can Benefit from Art Therapy?
The use of art as a way to heal is actually beneficial for several people. What’s good about art therapy is that it is totally versatile that it works for a number of people regardless of their age, experiences, health conditions, and backgrounds. This therapy is also ideal for you in case you have already tried verbal therapy without gaining the results you want. It lets you open up your own emotions, especially those that you’re trying to push back.
With art therapy, the following groups can have an outlet for their emotions and thoughts, which can benefit them significantly.
- People who have learning difficulties – The therapy works for those who have a difficult time learning while also struggling when it comes to verbalizing their feelings.
- People suffering from dementia – The use of your brain’s creative area is a major help in lowering your stress level. It also works in restoring your personal identity. The therapy is, therefore, helpful for those who are dealing with dementia, especially if they have a hard time keeping their personal identity and memories.
- People suffering from mental health issues – Art therapy is also very relaxing. It can, therefore, benefit those with mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
- Autism patients – Creative art also serves as a way to calm down and distract people. This is a good thing for those suffering from autism. It can also improve the way these autism sufferers communicate.
- People who struggle expressing their emotions and feelings – Art therapy also serves as a means for these people to show what they feel to the world without having to communicate these emotions verbally.
- Patients of terminal or chronic illness – With the ability of art therapy to help people express their feelings, patients of chronic and terminal diseases also have the chance of regaining their freedom and sense of control. This can make them feel good despite their illness.
Now that you are more familiar about art therapy, what you can expect from each session, and who can greatly benefit from it, it is time to get to know about how you can take advantage of it. The next chapter will focus on providing you with relevant information on the different ways to express yourself through art therapy.
Different Art Therapy Techniques
In most cases, art therapy combines talk therapy or psychotherapy with the act of interpreting visual images as a means of delving into your subconscious. It also employs techniques that aid in uncovering your feelings and thoughts, particularly those that you can’t verbalize right away. Each session involves working with a licensed and expert art therapist who is well-trained in finding the most suitable tools and techniques for your case. These tools come in the form of art media and materials.
It is important to note that the techniques and tools you will use will depend on your age, the specific reasons why you decide to seek help, and any mental or physical disability you have. The good news is that these therapists know a lot of different types of art therapy so choosing one, which will really work for you is possible.
Among the most commonly used types of art therapy are the following:
This form of art therapy is considered by many as the most limitless out of your many choices. It is mainly because it lets you paint anything you want, giving you a sense of control and freedom. Painting actually provides you with a free-form approach that lets you create images from a blank canvas. It might also involve the use of tools designed to help you in constructing and manipulating images. In art therapy, painting also requires you to use certain materials, like spray paints, watercolors, and acrylic paints.
The good news is that painting techniques and supplies provided in each session are among those that a lot of people are already familiar with. The problem is that some also perceive that talent is necessary in order to take part in this form of art therapy. Also, take note that the supplies used in painting are often less controllable and more fluid when compared to those supplies that you can use in drawing.
Take that into consideration if you feel like you have issues associated with perfectionism and control. Consult your therapist about it, too. Provided painting is the ideal form of art therapy for you, you can expect your therapist to make the whole session easier and less hassle-free by giving you prompts and exercises where you can base your painting.
A blank canvas will also be provided, giving you the freedom to think of the various possibilities to work on. You are allowed to explore your own emotions so you can paint and draw whatever it is that comes to your mind. The goal here is to express your creativity and your emotions, especially the repressed ones, through art.
In the field of art therapy, collage is considered to be a more passive technique when it comes to expressing your creativity when compared to painting and drawing. It is because the technique involves the manipulation of items that were already designed and constructed, like word titles and pictures on magazines. It is a great technique for those who find it hard to begin certain tasks or formulate decisions.
It is particularly useful for those who consider art as an inhibiting and a scary process. Note that there are those who view art that way for a number of reasons. It could be due to negative feedback they received as kids or with the pressure and anxiety that often come along their desire to come up with a presentable and polished art. In this case, collage is a perfect art therapy technique for them.
In this case, your art therapist will provide you with several options for creating a collage. These could be in the form of digital pictures, magazine images, or any other materials collected from pamphlets, books, and junk mails. Expect the therapist to guide you in cutting and pasting the images together. What is good about organizing images is that it serves as a non-threatening way of expressing your emotions and thoughts.
It is mainly because it is more on construction, not invention or creation. Aside from the pictures, you can also use other art supplies, such as adhesives, brayers, paper-based substrates, stamps, and patterned papers. You are also allowed to use paints, pencils, and pens as a means of adding vital expressions designed to complete the image.
The collage you created will serve as a prompt for the narrative or story that your therapist will ask you to tell. Collaging actually works a bit similar to the creation of a vision board wherein you are required to create a collage based on your goals and dream life.
Another popular type of art therapy is illustrating or drawing. Drawing and illustration techniques in the field of art therapy often require you to use an item to do some simple markings. Among the items you can use are pens, charcoal, pastels, crayons, and pencils. The whole process also usually requires you to work on paper-based substrates.
What’s good about this form of art therapy is that the majority are already familiar with using various drawing supplies. With that in mind, it is possible for you to use the supplies successfully even with the least instruction. There is also a lower risk for you to experience frustration because you have some sort of idea what you should do.
However, there are also those who view illustrating and drawing as specialized skills. If you also have such perception then this might serve as a barrier that might prevent you from engaging in this art therapy technique. In this case, you have to talk to your therapist so you will be guided and gain some sort of encouragement to try it. Your therapist will also most likely remind you that the actual purpose of this form of therapy is not actually to create a masterpiece but to explore yourself emotionally through art.
Sculpting is also another of the most popular types of art therapy. It often involves the use of clay, paper mache, or any other pliable item. You also have the option to sculpt 3D models as a means of bringing your feelings and emotions to life. If bright colors are too stimulating for you then you are allowed to use duller ones. If you are interested in sculpting as a way to take advantage of art therapy then be aware that it lets you experiment using a wide range of materials and concepts considering the fact that it also includes some trial and error.
What’s good about sculpting is that it has the ability to provide you with a more dimensional perspective or view of things. It can help you realize that all situations are actually multidimensional, so you can approach them from various perspectives. Also, take note that sculptures are tangible forms of art that can provide you with the chance to construct or shape your environment.
Other tools that you can use for sculpting are carving tools as well as some decorative items that you may want to incorporate into the sculpture once you have already constructed the form.
If you are not into painting and drawing, then you may find photography as an excellent outlet in case you want to try art therapy. Fortunately, the majority of smartphones today already come with advanced and HD cameras. You can make use of this technology in your phone or consider investing in a professional camera. This art therapy technique gives you the opportunity of capturing images from a lot of things, including those that you’re genuinely thankful for, your loved ones, or anything that pleases you or captures your attention.
You can also combine photography with collage. What you have to do is to print your captured images then make them a part of your vision board. Just make sure that you consult your art therapist first so you will know which kind of photography is suitable for you. Your therapist will also be the one who will provide advice on the different techniques that you can utilize when using this form of art.
Once you use it in art therapy, you can expect photography to help you incorporate past images, memories, and digital manipulation of your captured pictures. You can also utilize your old pictures to bring back some of your memories then make use of similar pictures to establish a more positive framework through digital technology.
You also have the choice of creating a series of pictures using the smartphone technology, which is the same as the storyboarding concept. You may also transform the gathered images using various art therapy techniques after printing them out or through digital means.
While it is not often perceived as an outlet for visual creativity, writing is still a useful technique in the field of art therapy as you can use it in various ways, including comics, storyboarding and art journaling. When used in an art therapy session, this technique may require you to write in a journal then produce an art on top of it, which is the key to releasing the writing content.
The only supplies you may need for this are paper and pen. However, note that you may also use other art supplies depending on how you want to incorporate art into your project. It would be best to use writing along with certain keywords during an art therapy session as this works in solidifying your overall feelings and thoughts regarding a certain issue.
Mentioned are just some of the most commonly used art therapy techniques at present. To figure out which outlet works favorably for you, do not forget to talk to your therapist first. Be honest about the specific goals you want to attain from your art therapy sessions as well as the issues you are facing right now as those can help your therapist figure out the most suitable creative outlet for you.
Benefits of Art Therapy for your Health and Well-being
Art therapy can give you several outlets designed to improve your emotional, physical, and mental health and well-being. It is specifically useful for you, especially if you have a difficult time expressing your feelings. It is mainly because art allows you to express yourself, communicate to other people freely, and explore even your deepest thoughts and emotions, particularly the ones that you are repressing.
Contrary to what others believe, though, it is not only for the creatively talented and artistic people. Anyone can participate in an art therapy session, even those who don’t have talent in art. If you wish to take advantage of this alternative healing technique, then among the most rewarding benefits you can gain from it, as far as boosting your overall and well-being is concerned, are the following:
Relieves symptoms of depression
Depression is so common nowadays and it affects people of all ages, especially those who have a hard time expressing themselves. Fortunately, there is now a way for those who are prone to suffering from this mental issue to alleviate its symptoms – that is through art therapy. This form of therapy is a natural approach to fostering positivity in your life.
By taking part in regular sessions, you will see yourself looking forward to something good daily. Expressing yourself in a creative manner is also known to be helpful in combating any chemical imbalances within your brain that might cause depression.
Certain activities that you can engage in during an art therapy session, such as drawing, photography, sculpting, and painting, are actually fun, relaxing, and rewarding. All of them are designed in a way that they can keep your stress level low while ensuring that you stay calm. They can also help retain your mental clarity. In addition, the process of creating art gives you a healthy distraction. It allows your brain to take a break from the usual thoughts and emotions you expose yourself to, especially negative and unwanted ones.
Note that an average person actually processes up to 60,000 thoughts every day. Around 95 percent of these thoughts are totally the same. By immersing yourself in a creative activity, you get the chance to put yourself in the zone, which is also considered as the state of flow. Such refers to a meditative-like state, which allows your mind to focus on just one thing and push aside all your other thoughts and worries temporarily.
Each time you create art, you are also training yourself to focus on details and pay close attention to the environment, which is why it works a bit similarly to meditation. It is, therefore, an excellent way to relieve stress. It is even helpful for those who are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Improves the quality of life of those suffering from dementia
Art therapy is also one of the most useful healing techniques for those who are suffering from dementia because this therapy can improve the quality of their lives. Art has the ability to enhance the memory and cognitive ability of those who have serious brain disorders, like dementia. While dementia is primarily viewed as a problem associated with the loss of memory, note that patients also encounter other symptoms that greatly affect the quality of their life. These include aggression, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and agitation.
For those suffering from dementia, encouraging them to produce visual arts can definitely help them derive a lot of pressure from the activity. It can improve the quality of their life since it can sort of boost their self-esteem, minimize psychiatric symptoms, and enhance their social behaviors. Patients can actually choose to paint and draw. Both activities are effective in increasing the connectivity between their brain’s left and right hemispheres. They can also stimulate the growth and development of new brain cells, which is beneficial for dementia sufferers.
Improves your ability to manage and control yourself
If you are suffering from an addiction then you may instantly realize that one of its most common side effects is losing control. For instance, you may prioritize the immediate gratification provided by satisfying your addiction on something over your professional and personal responsibilities. No matter how hard you try to manage and control yourself, you still end up giving in to your addiction.
You may also have a hard time balancing your addiction on something with your life activities. If you want to finally let go of your addiction and control and manage yourself better then you should consider participating in an art therapy session. It is a big help in learning skills designed to improve your focus and overall health and improve your discipline and self-control.
Develops your communication skills
Do you have a difficult time expressing your emotions and thoughts? Then avoid committing the mistake of using unhealthy outlets, like alcohol and drugs, as a means to escape. Try art therapy, instead. Each session can actually cultivate self-expression, which will slowly build your ability to communicate with others. Eventually, you will notice a great improvement in the way you socialize and reach out to those around you.
It can also build your self-esteem, social skills, and confidence. It lets you develop the self-esteem and self-awareness necessary in tackling a number of life challenges and social situations.
Eliminates the burden associated with chronic health issues
A lot of people are suffering from chronic health issues as well as the anxiety, stress, depression, and other negative effects that come along with their illness. Fortunately, there is now a way for these patients to deal with and minimize the burden and negative effects caused by their chronic ailments – that is through art. It is mainly because art therapy can have a positive impact on their psychological and physical health.
Visual arts and music, for instance, can help these patients let go of their worries about the ailments they have for a while. Both can make them forget about what they are experiencing and focus on positive experiences, instead. Art therapy is also the key to maintaining the identity they had before their illness struck them. In addition, creating art pieces can make them attain a sense of fulfillment. It is also the key to expressing their emotions and minimizing their stress level.
Art therapy is indeed helpful in boosting your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It is even a practical and flexible approach to healing as it helps a number of people, particularly those who have mental health disorders, brain injuries, learning disabilities, high stress occupations, and chronic ailments. It is also a big help for teens and kids with personal issues in school. Aside from all that, art is also a big help for those who are dealing with addiction, high blood pressure, cancer, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, and other mental and health issues.
A Practical Guide to Using Art Therapy for Healing
Creating art gives you an outlet to stimulate your brain. The good news is that anyone can do it. It is even possible for you to do it at the comforts of your own home. Just make sure that you are guided by the following tips before starting to use art therapy for a specific purpose:
Gain a full understanding of how art therapy works
Prior to participating in any art therapy session, you have to conduct some research about it so you will fully understand the whole process. In the field of psychology, it can be defined as a counseling technique, form of psychotherapy, and rehabilitation program wherein you will be required to create art as a means of enhancing your mental, physical, and emotional health and wellbeing.
The main goal of this approach is to express yourself using art. It is useful in coping with trauma, understanding your behaviors and feelings, resolving issues, and minimizing stress. You have to gain a full understanding of the capabilities and limitations of art therapy as this can help you figure out whether this is the ideal technique for a particular purpose you have in mind.
Determine if art therapy is the most suitable form of therapy for you
While it is true that art therapy is for everyone and there is no need for you to become a skilled and talented artist before you can try it out, it is still important to determine if it is the most suitable solution for a specific issue you wish to solve. Also, find out if you belong to the groups of people who are most likely to gain numerous benefits from this therapy.
These include kids who can’t verbalize their feelings and thoughts for some reasons, shy and withdrawn people, those who are suffering from dementia, traumatic brain injuries, cognitive disabilities, autism, and other mental health issues, victims of abuse, and those who are suffering from bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and PTSD. If you belong in any of the mentioned groups then art therapy may be the perfect outlet for you to heal yourself.
Look for a trained and skilled art therapist
Art therapy is actually something that you can do on your own and without leaving your home but take note that allowing yourself to work with a really skilled and trained therapist can provide you with more rewarding benefits. It is mainly because therapists in this field are trained in teaching their clients/patients on how they can maximize the power and potential of art therapy.
Your chosen therapist will also guide you all throughout the process by analyzing your work. A skilled one will also ensure that you take part in a specific exercise and therapy, which specifically suits your needs. If possible, look for an art therapist who received an extensive training in this area, particularly those who hold a doctorate or Master’s degree in the field of art education, counseling, and psychology.
Also, know exactly where you can find such skilled and trained therapists. In most cases, you can find them in those places where art therapy sessions often take place. These include schools, nursing homes, crisis centers, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. Once you have made your choice, make it a point to talk to your chosen therapist and share what you want to achieve from taking part in this form of healing technique. That way, your therapist can craft the most suitable plan for you.
Release your anxiety
This is something that you have to do once you have finally chosen your therapist and you finally got a schedule for the art therapy session. Ensure that before you start each session, you encourage yourself to release all stress and anxiety you are feeling. Remember that art is the best outlet for you to release your anxiety.
You can achieve that even if you consider yourself as someone who has no creative talent. Also, instead of being too anxious and pressuring yourself to create a perfect piece of art, remind yourself that perfection is not the goal of the session. What you should focus on is to create anything that will finally release all your emotions, help you attain self-control, and let you experience freedom.
Know exactly what you need to start
Avoid attending a session unprepared. You have to know exactly the things that you need to practice art therapy and attain success from it in terms of achieving better health and well-being. The good news is that there are numerous supplies and tools that are now available for those who are interested to take part in this therapy. When it comes to creating a piece of art, note that one of the first steps that you have to do is to gather the materials. It is also necessary to pick a background for the kind of art you wish to create.
This background is often referred to as the substrate. Some of the things that you can use, in this case, are blank canvas, cardboard, illustration board, and heavyweight paper. Also, make a decision on how you plan to cover the background. You should also choose the materials, embellishments, and any other decorations you wish to incorporate into your artwork.
When making your artwork, be as free as possible. Do not try to suppress any thoughts and emotions. Your goal should be to express yourself freely through art. If you’re unsure how to begin then consider giving yourself a theme beforehand. Such theme will provide some form of structure to the activity and will serve as your guide to finishing up your work.
Creative Art Therapy Ideas and Exercises
One great thing about art therapy is that it is totally versatile. While one of your most common options is to use paint and canvas, you can still pick from a wide range of other mediums. The following are just some of the most creative art therapy ideas and exercises that will definitely work for everyone:
Paint in the Dark
Painting in a dark place gives you the chance to do the activity from your heart. It also adds some fun to the process. It is an incredibly liberating experience since you do not have to worry about the end result. If you are attending an art therapy session with a group then you will also enjoy the moment when your therapist will turn on the light, allowing you to see the paintings of everyone.
Another alternative to this activity is to draw or paint with your eyes closed. Being unable to see the actual thing that you’re drawing or painting is actually a big help in intensifying touch, sensitivity, intuition, and fluidity.
Make an art journal
If you are one of those who finds journaling therapeutic then making an art journal is one of the art therapy activities that you should try. However, instead of just writing in your journal, you need to consider making it as visual as possible. You can do that by filling it with scribbles and drawings that represent your feelings and emotions at the moment.
You can also think of your past thoughts and feelings, especially those that you are trying to hide. If possible, draw one thing a day. With an art journal, you can keep track of your emotions, which is also helpful in getting to know yourself even better. It is also the key to a more effective self-expression.
Draw something in the sand
Some also say that drawing pictures and shapes in the sand offers a therapeutic experience. That’s the main reason why you can see patterns usually incorporated in the sand when visiting Japanese Zen gardens. Creating patterns and shapes in the sand is possible by using certain tools or just your fingers. You can also choose to build your own Zen garden at home so you can enjoy the therapeutic effects of drawing patterns and shapes in there, especially during those instances when you feel like you need to relax and calm down.
Create a visual autobiography
This specific art therapy idea requires you to draw an autobiography, which lets you look back on your memories in a non-confrontational manner. The goal of this activity is to let you draw all moments of your life, including sad and happy ones, so you can clearly see how these experiences shaped you. If you are attending a session that asks you to do this activity then expect your therapist to ask you to continue drawing something into your visual autobiography while considering the things that you wish to happen in the future, particularly after the therapy.
Create a postcard
This activity is designed to let go of all your emotions. What you have to do is to create or design a postcard but it should be something that you know you’ll never send. One advantage of this activity is that it releases any pent-up anger and stress. It is also liberating since you know that you will never be able to present it to others.
Draw or paint your emotions
In this specific activity, you will be asked to think about your current feelings and create a painting or drawing out of them. The goal is to put whatever it is that you are feeling into a paper without masking it. You really have to be truthful to yourself when doing this activity. It is an extremely valuable activity, especially if your goal for trying art therapy is to release your emotions.
Another alternative to drawing or painting is creating an emotion wheel. Here, you will need to use plenty of colors. You will also need to put a label on each emotion using a color, which you think perfectly suits it.
Create a motivational or calming collage
Create a collage out of pictures and images that are motivating for you. Once done, you should make it a point to hang the collage in a place where you can see it every day. Seeing it will definitely inspire you to continue pushing forward no matter how difficult your current situation is.
You can also make a collage out of calming, soothing, and meditative pictures. Combine these pictures so you can produce an attractive and relaxing collage.
Other Simple Yet Creative Art Therapy Activities
- Make a visual timeline or journal – This should consist of the most vital moments of your life. It should be able to show your life story with visual highlights of your most important moments.
- Create a piece of art using your fingerprints– Remind yourself that just like you, your fingerprints are also unique. Use paint and ink as a means of producing an art piece using your unique fingerprints.
- Create a sculpture of your ideal self – Visualize your ideal self – that is what you think you will look like in case you can turn yourself into a perfect person. Sculpt this mental picture of your ideal self.
- Make your own map of consciousness collage – In most cases, you’ll feel in conflict with your own consciousness in various ways. Through this creative activity, you can explore your personality dynamics since you can map them out in a visual way using spontaneous drawing and collage.
- Take advantage of line art – While the line is just a basic and simple art, it also contains plenty of emotions. You can actually use this simple form of art to have a visual demonstration of your own feelings.
- Create a mandala – You have the option of using traditional sand or drawing a mandala on your own. What’s good about creating this meditative symbol is that it is the key to loosening up a bit.
- Make a visual timeline or journal – This should consist of the most vital moments of your life. It should be able to show your life story with visual highlights of your most important moments.
- Make your own stuffed animal – Note that cuddly and soft objects are relaxing. Do this activity as a means of creating an adorable stuffed animal inspired by your intuitive paintings and drawings.
- Write a fairytale – Make sure that you are the main character. What you have to do is to envision the role you want to play in case you have the choice to create a situation with a happily ever after ending. Also, visualize how you want the story to go. Write a book telling this tale.
Mentioned are just some of the many creative ideas that you can try in any art therapy session. Just make sure that whenever you are doing a piece of art, you set yourself free. Avoid criticising yourself or judging your work, too. Remind yourself that the main reason why you take part in this session is that you want to liberate and accept yourself and enjoy a natural healing process designed to treat you physically and emotionally.
Summary and Further Reading
Now that you know what art therapy is, it is time to take full advantage of it, especially when it comes to improving your health and well-being. If you are still a beginner without any idea what exactly you should do, you might find yourself getting anxious but do not let this negativity stop you from enjoying all the positive benefits and rewards that this form of therapy can give.
Always remind yourself that you do not have to be a creative expert to benefit from art therapy. In fact, even if you lack creative skills, you will still find it useful in boosting your overall health. All it takes is to pour your heart and genuine thoughts and emotions to the piece of art you’re making. By doing that, you will realize that it’s actually a fun, relaxing, and enriching form of therapy, which is not only good for your health and well-being but can also lead to personal growth.
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