What Is Art Therapy?

“Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Within this context, art is not used as diagnostic tool but as a medium to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing” - British Association of Art Therapists (www.baat.org).

When art making is therapeutically facilitated it can become a powerful tool of expression, where thoughts and feelings can be safely explored. Art making can reach across language barriers and communicate our inner worlds with those who view it. Trained art therapists understand the importance of building trusting relationships, working with an emotional language they are able to safely witness what is created and be alongside the artist in their journey through discovery and expression.

Benefits of Art Therapy

Art production stimulates creativity and coping, meaning-making and reflectivity, while engagement in group-work fosters social cohesion, integration, dialogue, respect and cooperation. For the child art and art therapy has been shown to improve self-esteem, empathy, mindfulness, agency and resilience. The benefits of art therapy stretch far beyond this though:

  • Anyone can ‘do’ art, regardless of their level of skill
  • It gives the child the opportunity to express themselves
  • Art can reveal emotions that were unconscious, which allows the possibility to explore these feelings and help them lead to understanding
  • Art therapy provides a safe setting with no judgement, which makes it easier to process worries and concerns
  • Finished artwork is often ambiguous. This is a good thing! It encourages the artist to consider what their creation means to them, without there being a right or wrong answer
  • The act of creation itself can be enjoyable and fun!