Art Therapy


Contributed by Jacquelyn Olalere

Art has been in existence for almost as long as human civilization has been too. From record-keeping, and historic preservation to beautification and business, art has been used for different uses. We’ll tell you about another important role art plays; art therapy.


Art therapy can simply be defined as the use of artistic methods to enhance healing in mental or psychological disorders, relieve stress, and improve a person’s general well-being. Art has long been a form of expression for several people but it was not until the 1940s that it became a formal method of treatment. Physicians had noted that patients who suffered from mental disorders often expressed themselves with drawings, and paintings and thus began to explore art as a method of healing. It worked, and artists began to work with mental health patients to help them express their emotions. When art therapy is being used, the main focus is the process of creating the art which allows the individual to relax and enjoy it. There is no pressure to create something perfect because the resulting art does not matter.


Various forms of art are used in art therapy including:

  1. Drawing: This is a common form of art therapy that allows patients to express themselves and their emotions easily. Drawings can be used to create images that can be considered direct interpretations of an individual’s thoughts and emotions.
  1. Sculpture: The art of Sculpting involves creating objects using materials such as clay, paper, or wire. Clay is commonly used, with the art itself used to explore and address issues such as self-esteem, relationships, and body image. It is a way for individuals to gain clarity, and understanding that things are not constant. Understanding that everything in life is subject to change has helped individuals gain control of their emotions and feelings.
  1. Music: Music has since been used by individuals in expressing themselves and addressing issues that wouldn’t normally be talked about. It can be used to create a mood or atmosphere which helps individuals relax and focus. Music as a form of art therapy involves the use of specific music to achieve therapeutic goals such as stress reduction, and since music has been found to have links with activating the brain’s reward system which can stimulate the release of dopamine, it is also used to promote relaxation and ease negative thoughts.


  1. Art therapy provides a safe space for people to express themselves without fear of judgment.
  1. It promotes emotional regulation.
  1. It improves self-awareness and self-esteem.
  1. It improves communication and social skills.

Art therapy is conducted by a trained art therapist who will work with an individual to identify the individual’s goals before creating an effective therapy plan which involves art to achieve said goals. Art therapy is an effective way and valuable tool for individuals of all age groups looking to improve their mental health and general well-being.