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Art + Therapy = Growth

Updated: May 29

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." ~ Aristotle

So let's jump right into this topic! Art and therapy are a powerful equation for self growth. The combination of creative processes and clinical insight provides many healing qualities that at times cannot be accessed with traditional talk therapy. The purposes of any clinical mental health treatment is often insight driven focused on enriching the client and guiding the client to identify, learn, and utilize their own unique strengths and coping skills.When using art therapy, the therapist focuses on utilizing a combination of psychological theory, clinical expertise, and creative/expressive processes (American Art Therapy Association [AATA], 2017).

Many use the term art therapy very loosely. It is very important to clarify that to become an art therapist there are many requirements. So in other words, an individual is not deemed an art therapist because they use art or creativity in therapy. Art therapy is a mental health profession which is delivered by clinicians who posses graduate level education in Art Therapy or Expressive Arts Therapy. In addition to this education, there is also a specific set of hours of supervised field experience that is needed to be completed in order to be fully credentialed as an art therapist. I will provide more information about this in later posts!

Art Therapy addresses mental health concerns through individual (i.e. child, adolescent, or adult), family, and group sessions. Art Therapist can work in a variety of settings such as schools, agencies/organizations, community, hospitals, treatment centers, residential settings, non-profits, hospice, art studios, and private practices. Art Therapy can be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, grief, abuse, trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.

Art therapy can take many forms such as drawing, painting, collage, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, crafts, digital art, and found objects. Art Therapy also utilizes various art media such as paint, crayons, colored pencils, watercolor, chalk/oil pastels, etc. The qualities of the material used in an art therapy session require clinical expertise and intentional application to provide the client with either control or fluidity in the creativity process.

There are many wonderful benefits of art therapy in terms of clinical treatment. Let me count the ways!

  1. Provides insight (i.e deeper and clearer understanding of the self).

  2. Improves problem solving.

  3. Improves focusing and helps expand attention.

  4. Helps with frustration tolerance.

  5. Provides stress reduction.

  6. Improves social skills

  7. Provides an outlet for expressing feelings, wants, and needs.

  8. Increases self esteem.

  9. It's fun! And kids and teens love it!

  10. It provides safety and distance to work through difficult feelings and life themes/patterns that adults may have difficulty "talking" about.

  11. Art is a symbolic and expressive language.

I can keep on going here, but I think you have the point! Art Therapy is for all ages can be applied across various setting, treat a range of mental health concerns/diagnosis, and provide further depth and clarity which facilitates healing and self growth!

Have you ever considered taking up art-making as a form of self-care?

If so, what type of art do you feel you would enjoy?

With Love,



American Art Therapy Association. (2017). About art therapy. Retrieved from

For more information on art therapy click "Resources" tab on The Primed Canvas Home page.

**Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be clinical advice and/or treatment. The content on this blog is meant for educational purposes to create self awareness and provide resources for mental health/ art therapy related topics. The material in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for mental health treatment. **

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© 2019-2020 The Primed Canvas: Art Therapy Blog

Lauren Graham, LPC, NCC, LCDC, ATR-P

Houston, TX

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