What is Art Therapy? 

Art therapy is a technique used to treat psychological disorders and enhance your overall mental health. Therapists often suggest art therapy to help clients overcome stress, better communicate and foster a healthier mental well-being. When art therapy is used in a clinical setting by a professional, clients can begin to explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem, and work on social skills.

What is art therapy? 

Art therapy allows clients young, old and in-between to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior, develop social skills, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. Through the creative process and the artwork you produce, therapeutic healing takes place. Art therapy has been used as a valuable technique in mental health, rehabilitation, medical and educational settings – as well as in private practice, workshops and small-groups. 

How does art therapy work? 

Art therapy is an effective treatment for anyone experiencing developmental, medical, educational, social or psychological difficulties. Art therapy can include painting, drawing, coloring, sculpting or collage making. When clients go through the creative process, they begin to analyze what they have made and how it makes them feel. Through art therapy you and your therapist can begin to look at thoughts, emotions and behaviors from a different perspective. Art therapy is a wonderful therapeutic treatment because people do not need to have artistic abilities to reap the healing benefits.

Benefits of art therapy

Clients who choose art therapy come from all walks of life, facing a variety of challenges. Individuals, couples, families, and even groups can benefit from various art therapy techniques. Art is fun and creative but the therapeutic process isn’t an art lesson. Art therapy is based upon human development, psychological theories, and counseling techniques. Studies show that creating art stimulates the release of dopamine. This chemical is released when we do something that brings us joy. Increased levels of dopamine are very helpful for those battling anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. Mental health professionals and experts agree that art therapy is very beneficial. Art therapy has proven to boost your self-esteem, give you better control over your life, while helping you to get to know yourself better. 

Anyone who has experienced emotional trauma, violence, abuse, anxiety or depression can benefit from getting creative! Art therapy has a history of treating a variety of challenges for any age group.

Some of the cases where art therapy may be recommended are: 

  • Adults experiencing severe stress
  • Children suffering from behavioral or social problems at school or at home
  • Children or adults who have experienced a traumatic event
  • Children with learning disabilities
  • People experiencing mental health problems

Some of the more specific conditions that may benefit from art therapy are:

  • Aging-related issues
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Family or relationship problems
  • PTSD
  • Psychosocial issues
  • Stress
  • Substance use

Types of Art Therapy

Art therapy combines psychotherapy and visual arts to create a specific, stand-alone form of therapy, however art is also used in combination with other types of therapy. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapists are trained to understand the roles that color, texture, and various art media can play in the therapeutic process and how these tools can help reveal one’s thoughts, feelings, and psychological disposition.

During an art therapy session, an client may do some of the following exercises:

  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Finger painting
  • Working with clay
  • Carving
  • Sculpting
  • Doodling and scribbling
  • Making collages

Art therapy for children 

Art therapy is often suggested for children to stimulate their creative expression and foster a context for their feelings and emotions. Art therapists often bring toys such as puppets and props to stimulate their creativity and supplement the artistic process. The role of an art therapist is to help children visually express themselves, record experiences, perceptions, feelings and overall imagination. 

Professional Art Therapists in St. Petersburg and Tampa Florida 

If you have questions about the benefits of art therapy, the team at McNulty Counseling and Wellness is here to answer all of your questions! Our practice takes a holistic approach to promote balance for you and your family. Contact us here or call us at 727-344-9867 to schedule a remote consultation or an in-person session at our Saint Petersburg or Tampa, Florida office.