What is Art Therapy | Benefits of Art Therapy for Mental Health, Anxiety, Stress

This entry was posted on March 9, 2022 by Shilpi Roy.


Endless meetings, never-ending calls, presentations, target due, etcetera- etcetera; doesn't that makes you feel you want to take a break and relax. The generation we are and the competition we have with ourselves makes it necessary to take some time off from the hectic race. So, why not take a break? Do you also feel that yoga, meditations, Pilates, etc., are not your thing? There are other ways to take a break and relax, and I don't mean a Kit-Kat break. It's your imagination through any medium of art. Art has the knack of inspiring everyone and making them see and view things from a different take. It doesn't matter whether is the art is music or a painting.

Art fuels the mind and stimulates positive attitudes and actions in one's life. If one is recovering from any substance or drug abuse, an artistic form of self-expression may prove a practical step for recovery. Be it a fear, a secret, an idea, or just something that makes you happy, art is the best medium to express it to others. Imagination is the rejuvenation of one's soul and health. Letting your creativity think through a drawing or a painting and letting it speak through vivid and unique colors of your personality on a white canvas is food for mind and soul. Express your thoughts through the flow of words and let your poem's expression or the rhymes. Go ahead, stroke a thought out, and discover the masked artist inside you! It doesn't matter if it's another Monalisa or not; till it's cultivating your health, it's a masterpiece. Don't you believe me? Below are the proven health benefits of art therapy that support mental health and improve your overall quality of life.


art therapy

Art is the best therapy anyone can get. It has various forms and various benefits.

Dialectal Development:

what is art therapy

When kids at a young age start trying to speak, insisting them to see worksheets and flashcards, or compelling them to learn and remember the letters or numbers is cumbersome and clumsy. This technique may also be helpful or take more time because the letters and words in the flashcards, worksheets, or lists are one-dimensional. Teaching children through art is a better way of teaching as they are more involved and engrossed. Art in its various forms provides an outstanding and effective medium to enhance and develop vocabulary, develop skills of articulation and observation.
When ideas are present in visual form, students and children can understand in a better


anxiety art

Art fuels the fire of thought and resourcefulness. It gives the artist, be it an adult or a kid, to think and invent something. A systematic activity in the art can help the kid develop a sense of risk-taking and exploration. The process is enjoyable and supports the child or the adult to feel free and generate a new perspective around them.


mental health art

Practicing art or art-related activities help us know more about ourselves. But in the case of a kid or a child, due to the age, they can't figure out what they like on their age. They sometimes find it hard to connect with someone on common ground. Art acts as a basis or an equalizer to make connections without using any verbal medium or language.

Analytic Abilities:

mental illness art

Art improves the analytic abilities of an artist. The power to decide and make the decision develops with age. With experience, decision-making capability enhances. As we all know, any activity involving art needs decision-making and choosing. The process makes the artist analyze the situation and choose the color, the canvas, the object, the technique, and many more. These decisions later help the budding artist make decisions in other important aspects of their life, hence improving their analytical skills.

Enhances Mood:

art therapy definition

Everyone gets moody and has breakdowns. Most people feel down during the hardships or when they face unpleasant changes. During phases like these, we hardly find something that uplifts our mood. But activities involving art help improve the mood and uplift your peace of mind. Creativity and imagination let you take your account of unpleasant situations, hence improving your mood. It is scientifically proved that creativity rules out the depression and emotional pain inside us.

Bilateral Synchronization:

benefits of art

The ability to control and coordinate both sides of the body effectively and efficiently doing different things is called bilateral synchronization. This ability to control and coordinate the body supports large development. Art activities like crafts and arts teach these abilities. As we grow, this ability develops and helps in activities like skipping and typing. Skills like painting, cutting, drawing, sketching, coloring, and more events like that require the use of both hands benefit in developing bilateral coordination.

Enthusiastic Emotions:

benefits of art therapy

Nobody likes those negative vibes. Art inculcates a sense of positivity. Making an art piece with different and vibrant colors and the combination creates the perfect balance of imagination and creativity. Practicing art activities boosts self-regard and inspires people to think positively and deal with hard situations in life. The body and brain function symphonically and concurrently when we feel positive and think good thoughts about ourselves, strengthening our mental health.

Art creates happiness:

art as therapy

Whenever an artist finishes an art piece, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. There exists a positive connection between one's happiness and creating art. Our body releases the happy enzyme dopamine when we are so glad, and studies suggest that when one has involved in art-related activities, the body releases dopamine. So, paint on and be happy.

Fine Motion Synchronization:

art therapy benefits

As one may agree, art is an efficient way to uplift creativity. But it not only boosts your creativity but also improves your motion coordination. Motor skills enhance your advance in skills like strength, flexibility, and agility. Art activities like threading beads, pilfering clay, wrinkling paper, and sketching exercise our hands and improve our motor skills.

Academic Achievements:

stress art

It is proven that students involved in art-related activities are more likely to perform better academically. Art improves concentration and widens our thinking abilities. It is like an exercise for the brain.

Inculcation of Discipline:

art and mental health

One of the essential things to live a peaceful life is having discipline. Art induces field in students and kids at an early stage that later helps them in life. Any art involving activity like painting teaches the artist discipline. When the artist is painting, he needs to control his emotions and paint within the lines and separate various shades of color. He needs to focus and complete the art piece by devoting his time and efforts to improving discipline. Kids are advised to indulge in art-related activities for a better schedule.

Challenge at every stage:

art physical therapy

Art holds something for everyone; it is like a challenge for everyone and every learning stage. Art is a process involving something new, beautiful, and challenging. As one advances in the art, they experience unique challenges as they try to achieve and create something better and new than their previous work. The process is never dull or induces boredom as it gets new every time.

Culture Connection:

art therapy for depression

We all come from different cultures and societies, but we can hardly connect our culture with the world around us or other diverse cultures. When a kid practices art, he can depict his religion to the world. He may find it difficult to adjust to the outer world, so indulging in art activities give children, even adults, a way to combine their cultures and beliefs with the surrounding world.

Improves Patience:

art therapy statistics

Patience is needed in the world we live in, but it's not easy to control it. Sometimes we find ourselves reacting in a situation that might have been a positive reaction if we were patient. Art-related activities help us to be more patient. Activities like painting, for example, take time to develop. The process of mixing color and applying on the canvas slowly and adequately, without disturbing the other lines or the sketch, opens the door for patients.

Enhances Persistency:

art psychotherapy

Persistency is whenever we fail to achieve something, but we don't give up trying to make it. This quality is indeed needed in this competitive world. Not giving up and making what we aim for. Art generates the habit of not giving up. For example, activities like sketching or shading require time and perfection. To achieve perfection in sketching and achieve the replica of the subject needs persistence. An artist gets it wrong a lot of times, but he makes it to the end and becomes persistent in his actions.

Progresses Imagination:

art therapy articles

Imagination is what creates something different and new. Art provides us with the power to use the tool of our imagination and create something new. Kids who practice art are often called imaginative and innovative. The freedom to design or paint one's desires or aims without restrictions helps the person to think creative ideas and marvelous creations.

Emotional Pliability:

drawing therapy

As we grow, our brain functions in a way that creates a connection and rhythm with various parts of the human body. Similarly, when one practices art, its associations with a different part of the brain. It improves our emotional quotient and endurance to stress.

Art induces Empathy:

psychological art

Empathy is the feeling of getting connected to someone. One might feel connected with a sculpture, a painting, or even a piece of cloth. Just watching a piece of art makes us empathize with the artist, the subject, the past, or even how generations lived in the past. It is proven that connecting with art or merely watching art gives happiness equal to falling in love.


Art therapy should be tried by everyone irrespective of their setback in life, including Retirees and Older Adults. It is recommended for anyone who feels pressured or overawed by the frantic schedule. Creative thinking provides a getaway from the problems of your life and gives you the chance to find a solution or peace. Art and imagination allow you to slow down and think, explore, and discover any issues that you might be undergoing. Be it an addiction that you are suffering from, attention disorder, anxiety, grief, any loss, or any issue affecting one's mental health, dementia, eating disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, relationship issues, depression, or any trauma art therapy helps all. It helps out folks who are confused or find it difficult to talk out.

Art therapy does not require you to be Leonardo Da Vinci. The focus of the process is to find a connection in your life with yourself or discover its meaning. All one needs is the will to take the art therapy to ease the healing.


Art therapy, as the name suggests, uses various forms of art to heal one. It uses and combines all forms or mediums of art, such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpturing, and music. Contrary to the regular art classes that focus on talent, technique, and perfection, art therapy encourages and focuses on the original illustration of expression at all capable levels. The therapy does not require you to yield a masterpiece; rather, it is about how to feel at the end of the therapy.

Art therapy is used in two ways mainly. It may be purely a form of meditation or relaxation. A person deep into the therapy, engrossed in the art project, can get into the peace zone that allows the brain and mind to concentrate on the ongoing process, which as a result, induces relaxation and peace. Secondly, it can also support the systematic relaxing process. For example, the colors or designs of the painting may show an emotional or weak part of the individual's mind.

Art therapy is facilitated by art therapists. Art therapists are expert-level professionals. They work with people who suffer from mental and medical health issues. They also treat individuals seeking or looking for creative, spiritual, and emotional growth. The therapist is trained to observe non-verbal signs, symbols, and metaphors that are usually expressed by art and other creative aspects, concepts that are typically tough to explain by words. It is with regular therapy and its process when the person starts feeling the benefits and effects of the treatment. The therapists function in various sceneries. It is not limited to schools, day treatment centers, outpatient centers and clinics, hospitals, addiction treatment centers, and correctional facilities. They primarily function in combination with a group or a team. For instance, an art therapist may cooperate with an oncologist, enhance their treatment and help them work out with different feelings and emotions to cope with the pain and suffering.


1. Enhanced Creativity:

art and mental illness

A white canvas and a brush represent a big field that prompts you to imagine and express your thoughts and emotions. Your brain works precisely to imagine vivid colors, striking places, people, and a lot more that depict your thoughts and often help one to realize their emotions.
Artistic skills build your character and act as a supplement for brain development, helps release stress and calm the temper, and are often recommended to teenagers for adequate brain development.

2. Enhanced Memory:

Enhanced Memory

Creating a masterpiece with colors could be the finest thing for people with memory issues. Its universally proven that painting boosts your memory skills, and artists are at a lower risk of suffering from memory-related diseases in their older age.

According to a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, drawn words are better remembered than written words. It also proposes that drawing strengthens memory by perfectly integrating the memory trace's visual, semantic, and mechanical features. These are self-advocating psychological benefits of drawing and painting.

3. Helps in Self-Realization:

art therapy ideas for depression

Drawing is words for heart and soul that allow them to express their inner emotions and feelings without speaking. It helps overcome shyness and boosts self-love and confidence. It's been observed that people involved in creative activities have better consciousness than those who don't. So, pick up the brush and let your imagination speak your emotions.

4. Improved Communication:

Emotions that words that can't describe can be depicted through one's drawing and painting. Art is a silent yet the loudest way to express feelings without verbal communication. One can project extreme emotions through art, such as turning photos into portraits. It helps people break free of the glass of their limitations. It enables individuals to embrace their uniqueness that others might see as flaws which include shyness, autism, or any other disabilities.

5. Recuperate Self- Management:

artwork help

Often, one loses self-control to the addiction, as one of its negative effects. One may arrange to get high above professional and personal accountabilities and fight it hard to balance their life due to addiction. Art therapy aids an individual to learn and control the skill of focusing, building discipline, and enjoying a healthy life ahead.

6. Assuages the signs of depression:

health art

Research and surveys have proved a connection between depression and addiction. One may result in the occurrence of another. Art therapy can help develop a positive feeling in a person's life and give them something to look onto something every day. It is confirmed to support and fight the chemical imbalances in one mind that might lead to depression.

7. Adopt traumas in the past:

Everyone wants to get rid of the sufferings and pain they endured due to any reason. Most people who suffer from addiction try to wedge out the pain and painful memories of their traumatic occurrences. They want to chunk out that part of their life, and it's quite tough to get over it. So through art, an individual can take slow steps to start expressing their feelings about all those painful and stressful events and, with every step, forget and remove those parts, to lead a peaceful life.

8. Ease the Stress:

Most people consume or intake drugs and alcohol to lessen their stress. Heavy intake of drugs or alcohol damages the body and destroys the natural process of dealing with emotions. Art therapy helps control and convert the stress or negative vibes into healthy and useful vibes that enhance their health and allow them to live a life free from all the harmful substances.

9. Increase problem solving skills:

When a person uses art as a medium of expression, it allows them to think in every possible direction, hence increasing their horizon to think. By opening one's mind, art therapy inspires people to seek useful and smart solutions to their problems. This is extremely useful for youngsters or adults who struggle with social fitting in or keeping up with the crowd.

10. Lessen the Symptoms:

how does art therapy work

art therapy can help lessen or enhance the symptoms or signs of physical or mental disorders. Other benefits of art therapy include a reduction in irritability, stress, and pains at all levels of the recovery stage.

11. Acts as a positive distraction:

mental health drawing

It is tested and proved by many who experienced unpleasant life-changing events that art therapy helped them recover. Distraction from an unpleasant or horrific memory or an addiction is hard to get. But the distraction acts as a door of liberation, and it's pretty refreshing. Art therapy can help an individual to concentrate on the positive aspects while keeping their brain off the sufferings, negative feelings, and cravings.


It is proven scientifically that practicing art generates the release of a chemical called dopamine. This chemical is released when a person experiences something that they enjoy or something that gives one peace or makes them happy. An increase in the level of this happy chemical or feeling-joy neurotransmitter can prove extremely useful in anyone's life.

Art therapy is a valuable, inclusive treatment for mental and physical health. Several case studies report that art therapy has benefitted physically and emotionally damaged patients. A case study published in a journal in the USA said ten weeks of art therapy improved a stroke patient. The patient showed all symptoms of improved and enhanced cognition, emotion, motion activities, and movements. Studies also substantiate the progressive wellness results in asthma, ADHD, epilepsy, fertility, addiction, diabetes, chemotherapy, dementia, brain tumor, burnt outpatients, depressed patients.

It is beneficial for all individuals dealing with mental sickness or even a minute form of mental or physical discomfort. It is suitable for every gender, every age, every culture, and disorder. Whether you are searching for an answer or looking to reason, one positive feeling supported by art therapy will always help anyone out. It instigates insights, empathy, acceptance, and they want to explore, provide insight and manage the experiences.

If you are suffering from any form of physical or emotional disorder, it's nothing to be scared of or be ashamed of. Be it an organ impairment by birth or any form of sexual abuse. Art therapy proves beneficial for all. The world we live in is fast-paced and hardly stops looking down on anybody, so you are your support. Art therapy is cheaper than any other treatment, and you don't necessarily need an art therapist. Just find what kind of art you like and start practicing it immediately. It heals, listens, and gives you to express. It helps you face your fears without actually experiencing the fear again. Your body responds positively to activities that make you happy. Even if you are having a bad day or in a bad mood, art therapy is what you need. Art permeates until the deepest part of one, where no words or expression exists. So, let the art take you to the light you wish to see and leave the pain behind. Try it out and be happy.

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