Is Art Therapy, Smart Therapy?

Art therapy. Elderly woman is painting in her home. Retirement hobby.
Image © Mladen Mitrinovic/Shutterstock.

Why your self-care practice should include art therapy

Modern life is stressful, and many women feel pulled in multiple directions by their personal and professional responsibilities. If this sounds familiar, you may benefit from art therapy as part of your self-care practice.

Everyone has a natural sense of creativity that they can tap into, and when they do, they often find that making art is a soothing, healing, and stress-relieving activity. The best part about it is that, with a few basic supplies, it is available to you anytime and almost anywhere.

Before we explore some art therapy ideas that you can include as part of your self-care routine, let’s look at what art therapy is and what it isn’t.

What is art therapy?

According to the definition provided by the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a type of therapy that enables self-expression that goes above and beyond language. When words simply can’t capture the range, depth, and quality of emotion that you’re feeling, art therapy provides a way to channel those feelings through alternate means, such as painting, drawing, colouring, sculpting, collaging, and other artistic activities.

It is more than simply making art, and it is available to and appropriate for people of all ages, regardless of their artistic skills or experience.

The following activities are wonderful ways to start incorporating art therapy into your self-care practice.

Creating a space for art therapy

Art therapy idea #1: Draw or paint your mood

Sometimes words can’t do justice to what we’re feeling. Grab some pencils and paper or paints and a canvas and let your feelings out through colours, shapes, and images. Remember that the goal is not to create an artistic masterpiece but to give voice to whatever is inside you. Pay attention to how your mind and body respond to this exercise and make a conscious effort to allow your feelings to move through and out of your body, not dwelling on whether your feelings are right or wrong. This is a wonderful activity to do daily as a way to check in with yourself and release stuck emotions.

Art therapy idea #2: Use something that inspires you as a prompt

How we respond to other works of art can provide wonderful clarity into our own state of mind. This activity asks you to think of a favourite novel, quote, poem, or song lyric as a prompt and respond to it with your own artistic expression. Choose whatever medium resonates with you, be it colouring with pastels or sculpting with clay. As your creation takes shape, reflect on what your prompt means to you and what feelings, memories, and associations it evokes. This often leads to meaningful insights.

Key takeaways

Art therapy is a powerful way to tap into yourself, relieve stress, and enhance your wellbeing. There are many creative and fulfilling ways to include it as part of your self-care routine. As you experiment with ways to tap into your inner self, remember that the goal of art therapy is to provide a creative outlet and connect with yourself. Don’t worry about making great art, just worry about making your art.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute mental health or medical advice. If you have concerns regarding your mental health, seek appropriate medical care or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.