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Is Art Therapy Effective?

Is Art Therapy Effective?

Is Art Therapy Effective?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses creative expression to communicate and heal. It has been gaining popularity in recent years as a complementary therapy for various mental health conditions. Art therapy allows clients to explore their feelings and emotions in a way that is creative and can be less intimidating than traditional talk therapy.

It can help with issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and physical and mental health conditions. This article will explore whether art therapy is an effective tool and form of treatment for people struggling with their mental health. 

How Art Therapy Works

Expressive arts therapies enable people to understand better and respond to their emotions and thoughts. It can provide clients with a valuable new perspective. In addition, artistic expression is good for mental health in general.

You may be wondering what you can expect during a session. Here is a breakdown: An art therapist works with clients to determine what is causing them distress. Then, the therapist will guide the client to create art that addresses the cause of their issue. In addition, art therapists will:

  • Describe the goal of therapy
  • Explain that clients don’t need to think of themselves as artists to benefit from the therapy
  • Assist the client in choosing and using a medium (for example, drawing, sculpture, collage, or painting)
  • Help the client express themselves via art, generally by asking questions
  • Talk about the results, both the art itself and what the client is feeling
  • Plan for more sessions or how the client can work on their own

Who Does Art Therapy Help?

Research has shown that art therapy can benefit individuals dealing with a range of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even some neurological disorders. It can provide a safe space for individuals to express their emotions and experiences, which can be challenging to put into words.

It can also help individuals develop coping skills, increase self-esteem, and improve communication. Art therapy can be used to help individuals gain insight into their lives and constructively process their thoughts and feelings.

It can provide an opportunity to explore new ideas and perspectives, as well as a sense of control and empowerment. For instance, art therapy can help individuals express feelings of grief, loss, and trauma creatively, allowing them to process their emotions in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

Is it Effective?

One study found that art therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of depression in adults. Another study found that it helped improve communication and social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder.

Additionally, art therapy has been shown to enhance the quality of life and reduce stress in individuals with cancer. It can also help those struggling with substance abuse, traumatic experiences, eating disorders, and grief.

Art therapy can also improve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and chronic pain. It can also be used to improve self-esteem, foster creativity, and provide a healthy outlet for emotions. For instance, art therapy can help those with PTSD by allowing them to express their feelings and experience in a safe and controlled environment.

Considering Art Therapy

While art therapy may not be a cure-all for mental health conditions, it can be a valuable tool for individuals seeking support and healing. It provides a non-verbal way of expressing oneself, which can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with verbal communication.

It can also be a source of joy and a way to connect with others. For example, it can help increase self-awareness and foster insight into one’s emotions. It can guide a person into exploring and expressing emotions that are too difficult to put into words.

In addition, can assist in processing past traumas and to promote relaxation. Finally, art therapy can be used to develop problem-solving skills and enhance creativity. For example, an art therapist might help a client create a collage to explore the cultural values and beliefs that inform the client’s identity.

What Evidence Supports it? 

Art therapy is beneficial for patients with emotional and physical illnesses. Case studies involve many areas, like burn recovery in adolescents and young children. They can also include eating disorders, emotional impairment in children, reading performance, grief, and sexual abuse.

In addition, studies of adults using this type of therapy have featured adults or families in grief. They have also highlighted patients receiving bone marrow transplants, among others.

Art therapy has been found to reduce anxiety levels, improve recovery times, decrease hospital stays, improve communication and social function, and help get pain under control. However, further research is needed.

Research has also indicated that art therapy has been quite successful in helping children learn to communicate effectively. As a result, they have seen increased concentration, better behaviors, and the ability to form closer relationships. In addition, it has been shown to improve moods, enhance relaxation, and minimize disruptive behaviors and attitudes. 


Art therapy could be effective in helping individuals cope with various mental health conditions. Its benefits include improving communication, reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increasing self-esteem. It provides a unique and valuable way of expressing oneself and can be a useful tool in treating mental health issues. Art therapy is also a great way to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It can help individuals gain insight into their thoughts and feelings and can lead to a greater sense of control and empowerment.

If you are interested in art therapy, scroll through our lists on LGBTQ and ALL of mental health providers in your area. Our qualified mental health practitioners specialize in various fields – you can find one that suits your unique needs.

If you are a provider of this type of therapy looking to gain more exposure for your business, sign up for a subscription today! Our subscription for our health care providers features many benefits and can be an excellent way to connect with prospective patients. 

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Kaitlen Knowles, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW (she, her), Rochester, NY

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