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Art therapy for mental health: What makes it incredibly effective?

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Have you ever wondered what is art therapy or what happens in art therapy? Art therapy is a type of treatment used to heal a variety of different mental health problems. It is unlike psychotherapy because it has no goals, specific methods, or end-points. Instead, the work that art therapists do with individuals and groups involves art-making based on current life experiences and what an individual's verbal and nonverbal communication might be trying to tell them about their life in general.

Art therapy can help people find meaning in their lives by triggering memories from the past which have been repressed or forgotten. Sometimes these memories are brought up through works like drawing and painting, but other times they can be activated through music or dance. Lasting recovery can be accomplished through art therapy, since there is no requirement for an individual's mental health to be stable and happy throughout the duration of treatment.

Is Art Therapy Effective?

Here are a few factors of art therapy that makes it incredibly effective:

1. Individual Nature

Art therapy is an effective means of treating mental health problems because it provides individualized treatment. Each individual benefits from art therapy in a unique way. The art therapy techniques that one therapist teaches to a participant will not be the same as what another therapist teaches to a different participant. By being so individualized, art therapists can better adjust their techniques to each participant's needs.

2. Meaningful Release

Art therapy allows its participants to express emotions and feelings that are usually difficult for them to express. These feelings can include sadness, grief, anger, or even helplessness. Art therapy allows an individual to work through their thoughts and feelings in a safe environment with like-minded people who understand what the individual is going through.

3. Control (How Art Therapy helps Anxiety?)

Social skills are essential in any psychiatric disorder which is why it's essential to treat emotional disorders or even anxiety disorders with art therapy, since they tend to occur in isolation from other people, making it hard for participants to effectively communicate their symptoms. Art therapists can help individuals gain insight into their present emotional states and attempt to change them by using art making as a means of expression and communication.

4. Expressive Language (What is expressive arts therapy?)

People who suffer from mental disorders tend to be misunderstood by others because of their symptoms, which can sometimes lead to an inability to effectively communicate. Art therapists can help them develop communication skills and expressive language, which is known as "Expressive arts therapy". In this way, the participant is able to translate what it is that they feel or think into a specific form of art. For example, a person who feels like he is "trapped in a box" could depict this in his work of art, which will be more effective than simply telling someone about it verbally because the therapist will be able to see what the participant's true feelings are through the artwork.

5. Collective Insight (How does Art Therapy affects the brain?)

Art therapists work with their participants to find a common solution to their problems. Although they will still be individualized, each participant also contributes a new perspective or idea, which can benefit the group as a whole. This collaboration allows for an increased chance of success, since all of the individuals are working towards the same goal. The therapist is also able to better tailor his techniques based on what he knows about each participant's needs and unique problems.

6. Reflective

Art therapy takes time for reflection, so an individual does not have to worry about facing sudden changes in his life that might lead to another crisis or relapse. Art therapy is an ideal way to achieve a deeper understanding of oneself and one's problems. This also works towards preventing future issues that may occur in the near future.

7. Open-Ended

Art therapy can be used to treat any mental health problem that might be happening in a participant's life. Many mental health issues tend to come and go, or even become worse over time, but art therapists can help participants gain insight into themselves and what their issues are so they can take the proper steps towards recovery.

8. Flexible

Art therapy does not have any goals or specific steps, making it excellent for all individuals. The therapist, who is engaged in the participant's healing process, will be able to help create their own treatment plan that can best meet their needs. If a person continues to use art as a means of communication with his therapist and others in his life, this can help show him that he has made progress in his mental health and reduce the amount of distress he experiences.

9. Credible

Art therapists are credible because they have an extensive background in both art therapy itself and mental health. They also have a great deal of training and education in order to be able to effectively treat individuals who suffer from mental health problems. This credibility makes it easier for the participant to feel like he can trust his therapist and his art therapy techniques.

10. Relevant

Art therapy is relevant because therapy involves doing activities that make an individual feel better about himself in the present moment. Art is always relevant because it has become a way for people to express themselves, as well as find meaning in their lives through experiences from the past. Art therapy will always be relevant because its use allows people to reflect on their lives, as well as find joy in everyday interactions with others.

11. Creative

Art therapy can be used to treat any psychiatric disorder that might be happening in an individual's life, because it allows for a creative outlet. As previously mentioned, art therapy is an ideal way for people to express their feelings and thoughts through a visual form of communication. This allows the person experiencing the problem to not feel alone, since he or she will have other people to communicate with and be inspired by in his art making.

12 . Expressive

Art therapy also allows for an expressive outlet for a person to create a form of self-expression. Often, individuals working in art therapy will have their artwork labeled as "dramatic" or "expressive", but this is because their work of art is the most direct form of their expression. On the other hand, verbal expression can be interpreted in many different ways, due to its vagueness. Art is a way to create one's own voice, which has been shown to be effective in counseling many mental health patients.

13. Therapeutic

The results of art therapy are beneficial to all who participate in it and view it, which makes it effective as well as therapeutic. Art therapy can provide support for an individual as he or she goes through the healing process, which is why it's beneficial and effective. One of the main factors in art therapy's effectiveness is that it gives people an option to express themselves, which they may not have otherwise been able to do.

14. Hands-On

Art therapists usually encourage the participant to participate in their sessions themselves, by letting them use art making as a means of expression and communication. This allows a person to express himself or herself in a way that will not only help him heal, but also allow him or her to share this healing experience with others.


Art therapy is beneficial to everyone involved in the art making process, including its creator. Through the process of art therapy, an individual is able to come face-to-face with his or her problems and find solutions to them as well. Art therapy is not only used as a treatment for individuals who are ill, but it can also be used in schools, organizations, colleges and other institutions that attempt to help people improve various aspects of their lives. If you want to give it a shot, you can book an art therapy workshop with ManoShala as well. Use code “CARE10” to avail a 10% discount.

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