Colours can beguile and heal you altogether. After a hectic class schedule or mind boggling work, doodling or painting can relieve you. It relaxes you and helps you to put out your frustration of the day, without any harm. In this worldly space, where changes happen so frequently, adaptation can be pretty tough. In this process of adaption, one might severely harm their mental health.

As far as psychology is concerned, healing through any form of art is considered to be a part of art therapy. All these art therapy activities are aimed as one prime goal, that is to provide the much needed respite from stressful instances. Art therapy is distinguished completely from art classes. They are more inclined towards free expression and providing a means of comfort. 

Art therapy meaning explores various aspects that come into this psychotherapy. In this article, there will be a highlight of various activities in art therapy. Before that, there will be a detailed introduction to what art therapy is. Further, there will also be elaboration to what are the goals of art therapy. There will also be a distinction between art therapy and art classes. This specific article is primarily based on exploring what activities are governed under art therapy. 

Art Therapy – A Brief Introduction

In a rudimentary understanding, art therapy is the set of activities that allow any individual to freely express, heal and dispense their emotions. By doing so, the individual liberates from a certain incident and strives towards achieving a better goal. The American Psychological Association, defines the art therapy meaning as, “The process of making art is seen as healing”. It is “an experience that provides an opportunity to express oneself imaginatively, authentically, and spontaneously.” These activities will “lead to personal fulfilment, emotional reparation and transformation.” (1)

Art therapy is classified under the broad term of psychotherapy which amplifies the need of self expression through drawing, painting or modelling. This includes various types of paintings, sketching, drawings and clays to do modelling. The main root that holds art therapy firm is the belief that self-expression can lead to healing. Art is one effective way of expressing oneself and it is very personal to all individuals. The concept of art therapy is not suffice to drawing or painting. Instead, currently, it is expanded to various categories that would be discussed later. 

Art Therapy
Source – Psychologytoday

Art therapy techniques make use of creative cognition of an individual to determine any symptoms of psychological illnesses. The types of colours used, or the drawing or the strokes, are all involved in determining a mental well being of the individual.

Further, the appreciation of the artworks will enhance the level of confidence, trust and induce willpower. This will also enhance social skills of the individuals and will promote a better adaptation to new changes. The entire meaning of art therapy revolves around providing a room for expression. There are certain instances which an individual fails to share, therefore, art can help him or her to do so. 

There are several instances of psychological distress that can be treated or reduced significantly through implementing art therapy. These are: 

  • Anxiousness 
  • Ageing Issues 
  • Depression 
  • Bulimia/ Anorexia Nervosa 
  • Emotional Baggage 
  • Family Issues 
  • Traumatic Experiences
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 
  • Addiction 
  • Stress 

Art therapy in all of the above cases, aims to mitigate the obstruction in lives of individuals who are facing it. It does it through diverting triggering thoughts of an individual towards investing it in any form of art. Currently, art encompasses both visual, conceptual and cinematic art. Therefore, an individual can either include drawing, theatre and many more options under these categories of art.

Once the individual starts involving in these art forms, the influence of triggering thoughts, incidents or memories reduces. A frequent and continuous involvement would open up the individuals to various opportunities. This would again commence their path for development. They would first begin with achieving small steps and gradually move to look ahead at bigger goals. 

There are certain goals that art therapy tends to achieve for any individual that opts for it. This includes also the dimensions that the art therapy meaning wants to include and strive ahead for. 

Goals of Art Therapy

Goals of Art Therapy
Goals of Art Therapy

 While it is known that the prime goal of art therapy is to provide a healing source, there are various other goals too. Art therapy is not entirely about healing, it also focuses on various aspects. This can be understood in detail below:

To Save Your Mental Health 

The foremost goal of art therapy is to heal your mental health. Just imagine the ruckus of daily life and struggles pounding in. It would certaining take away the time for your psyche to relax and everything will revolve in mayhem. However, with art therapy, you get to set your mental health well. While you might be doodling or singing some song, it will relax your nerves. It will also divert your thoughts from all the impending work that you are required to do. With art therapy activities, you get the much needed “me time” for yourself. 

To Help You Learn

Art therapy definition and activities are focused towards making you learn something. While it might seem a secondary goal to you, however, it is very essential too. Once you learn from the art therapy activities, you will know when to use it if you are burdened mentally. With this psychotherapy, you will get to learn how to use art. Moreover, it will also help you to understand what the intensity of your emotion is. Gradually proceeding with art therapy, will develop an interest in seeking artistic activities. 

To Treat People with Autism

Art therapy aims at assisting people with autism. People with autism widely find it hard in terms of expressing what they are thinking. By art therapy, they will find the right channel to express themselves and what they are thinking. These art therapy activities help autistic people to relate and at the same time be enthusiastic about them. Further, art therapy is a requirement for the autism group of people to find their inner voices and interpret the world more colourfully. 

To Complete Restoration 

The goals of art therapy also include to complete the restoration, that is most frequently mentally. Restoration here may be subjective and depending on the individuals who seek art therapy. It can be about helping the individual identify what they want to do in future, or the new goals that they want to set. Restoration is also an important goal in art therapy, because the entire crust of the art therapy aims at reducing the obstructing symptoms. Only when the restoration would initiate, the physical and mental well being of the individual would be completed. 

To Improve Development 

The last amongst the goals of art therapy is to initiate or improve an individual’s development. This development will also be amongst the earlier signs that the individual is coming out of a particular phase. This development is usually aimed to be holistic. So, once a person seeks to achieve development, it would be psychologically, socially, biologically and emotionally. 

These are the goals of art therapy aimed for any individual that seeks it. This however, is influenced by various other factors such as intensity, problem identified and others. As a result, the appearance of the outcomes as per these goals, might be instant, meagre or delayed amongst the individuals. 

There are certain activities which are completely pertaining to art therapy. These are all discussed in elaboration, in the next section. 

Activities Included in Art Therapy

Activities Included in Art Therapy

There are various activities of art therapy. These activities are aimed at achieving the specific goals set for art therapy, as per the patient or the individual. These art therapy activities are: 

Curating Emotional Wheel 

Ever thought of spinning the wheel and expressing what you have been feeling? Well, with art therapy, you can place your emotions all together in one space. An emotional wheel is a crafted wheel with colours that depict various types of emotions. By creating an emotional wheel, it becomes easier for the person to express what they are feeling at the moment. All the emotions are present in the wheel in terms of a specific colour. For eg: red might indicate anger, blue might indicate happiness, green might indicate disgust, etc. This way, you can not only express your emotions, but also, understand more about your emotions. 

Journaling Entry

How hard can it be to speak out about what you have been feeling? While some might call it easy, it can be hard for many people. In art therapy, you can try journal entry so as to avoid suppressing your emotions. Journal writing is classified under the umbrella of writing therapy, which is a type of art therapy. By journaling, you also get your private space to express yourself. There is literally no one who is looking at what you write, hence, this promotes no constricted writing. Another secondary benefit of this art therapy activity is to improve your writing skills and expand one’s vocabulary too. 

Postcard To Nowhere 

This activity under the activities of art therapy will let you primarily focus on expression without judgement. In here, you can create your own postcard, with the letter, and send it nowhere. Best part about this activity is that you can create as many as postcards. This will help you to draw a postcard and hence add letters to it. Once you do so, you can feel free from those ruckusing thoughts. Further, making postcards will also differentiate as it would depend on your mood and the colours will be adjoined to it. 

Sculpt Your Anger 

Ever thought of how you looked when you got angry? It might sound absurd, but sculpting your anger will help you to stop the frustration from growing. In this activity of art therapy, one will get to sculpt out their anger with the usage of clay. The prime benefit from this art therapy activity is to make sure that you dispense the anger successfully. If it is not done, building up the anger will only hamper the individual;s growth. It can make the person agitated, insecure and unexpressive. This activity also aims to help the individuals understand the intensity of their anger. 

Listening to Calm Music

Music is the mood maker for all of us. Right from being sad to gleaming with happiness, music can heal your mind. In art therapy, you will be made to listen to songs that are soothing and low in upbeat. This would include some classical songs, instrumental songs or just songs with no lyrics. Music also has the potentiality to calm down your nerves and it also relates to your condition. Hence, music is prescribed for those who want to seek a break, and improve their efficiency. 

These are the activities that are propagated in art therapy. The basic goal of each of these art therapy activities is to provide mental stability. These are helpful only after they are implemented post studying the individual and his or her experiences. 

Read about Color Therapy for Depression: Color Therapy as Depression Therapy in Working Individuals

Parting Note

In this article, there is a complete elaboration to what is art therapy. Art therapy, in a very rudimental sense, refers to healing through art. It is a psychotherapy which is provided so as to initiate mental stability in the light of colours or any other art forms. Art therapy is not sufficient for colours only. It also includes various other aspects such as music, drama, writing, poetry and more. 

In this article, there is also an elaboration to the goals of art therapy. The art therapy definition is aimed at various goals apart from healing. These goals of art therapy are: 

  • To Save Your Mental Health 
  • To Help You Learn
  • To Treat People with Autism
  • To Complete Restoration 
  • To Improve Development 

Lastly, this article elaborates on the activities in art therapy. These activities in art therapy are inclusive of: 

  • Curating Emotional Wheel 
  • Journaling Entry
  • Postcard To Nowhere 
  • Sculpt Your Anger 
  • Listening to Calm Music 

In a nutshell, art therapy is all about curating healing and growth through the medium of various art forms. 

Commonly Asked FAQs

  1. What do you understand by the term art therapy?

In a rudimentary understanding, art therapy is the set of activities that allow any individual to freely express, heal and dispense their emotions. By doing so, the individual liberates from a certain incident and strives towards achieving a better goal. 

  1. Is art therapy the same as art classes?

No, the concept of art therapy is different from art classes. Art classes are essentially about perfecting various artistic techniques. Whereas, art therapy is providing the medium for the individuals to express themselves.  

  1. What are the goals of art therapy?

The goals of art therapy are:

  • To Save Your Mental Health 
  • To Help You Learn
  • To Treat People with Autism
  • To Complete Restoration 
  • To Improve Development 
  1. What are the art therapy activities?

The art therapy activities are inclusive of: 

  • Curating Emotional Wheel 
  • Journaling Entry
  • Postcard To Nowhere 
  • Sculpt Your Anger 
  • Listening to Calm Music 
  1. What can art therapy do for you?

Art therapy can help you find solace in any form of art. This will help in building your growth as well as help you in navigating your future goals. Art therapy is also a safe psychotherapy, as it does not involve the usage of any harmful substances. 

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