Discover the benefits of art therapy
Creative Outlets

Creative Coping: What Is Art Therapy

What if I told you that you could make some big changes in your life just by doing an activity a couple of times a week?

Would you say I was full of it? I would probably think I was about to talk to you about a gimmick.

While actually I’m going to explain a therapy technique that’s been around since the 1940’s.

Art therapy.

Now, before we jump in, let me start by saying that art is something that’s meant to be fun, helpful, & expressive. It’s not something that’s meant to bog you down.

What Is Art Therapy?

In it’s simplest form, art therapy is a form of creative self expression that you would use to help you in your self development.

Typically, most of the art activities involve some type of art medium such as clay, paint, or pencil.

A common myth is that you have to be creative in order to use art therapy. But, it’s just that, a myth. The benefits received through art therapy will happen whether or not you’re a Picasso.

Benefits Of Art Therapy

The benefits of using art therapy in your life are tremendous & quite broad. The benefits range from physical to emotional to mental.

You can use art therapy in order to:

  • Cope with grief
  • Cope with traumatic experiences
  • Create a positive outlet
  • Relieve stress
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Improve self esteem
  • Improve social skills

How Art Therapy Works

Art therapy sets itself apart from other traditional therapies in 2 ways.

The first is that with art therapy you don’t have to worry about trying to verbalize what you’re feeling.

The second difference between art therapy & other therapies is that you get to unlock your unique creative side. And you may not realize it, but we all have a creative side to us.

The entire purpose of art therapy is to help you uncover, understand & express your emotions.

Who is art therapy for?

Anyone can do art therapy & you can start today. It’s very beneficial to just about everyone.

Including but not limited to:

  • Children
  • People suffering from PTSD
  • Abuse victims
  • People suffering with mental & physical disorders

There are art therapists available to help you uncover & process what you’re feeling & to guide you through your healing process. However, don’t feel like physically going to a therapist is the only way to help yourself.

You can do art therapy without assistance & it’s straightforward to get started.

How To Start Art Therapy

In order to get started you will need to follow these 4 simple steps.

Step 1: Choose A Medium

The term “medium” is just a fancy word for drawing tool.

In this first step you need to decide what type of art that you would like to try. Keep in mind that you can switch from medium to medium. But only after you finish 1 project.

It’s extremely important that you finish a project before starting the next.

Here are some art mediums that you can use:

  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Charcoal
  • Pastels
  • Paint
  • Chalk
  • Crayons
  • Wood
  • Clay
  • Watercolor
  • Photography

The list can keep going & going but let’s not get overwhelmed.

Step 2: Find The Time

Set aside time at least 2 times a week, if not more, to work on your art. When you set aside the time make sure that you can focus on it. Don’t get distracted by dishes or phones.

Try to listen to music while working. You don’t have to sit in silence & ponder. Remember this is supposed to be fun.

Step 3: Find The Space

Be sure to find a space that you can work.

You can use the kitchen table, a desk, your lap, or even the floor. You don’t need to go buy any fancy equipment.

Step 3: Choose An Activity

Because there is a wide range of art activities that you can do, the sky’s the limit on how you can choose to express yourself.

Here are several activities that you can start with:

  • Create a postcard that you will never send. Think of someone that you need to say something to. It could be a coworker, a loved one that you’ve loss, or even a pet. Create it however you see fit to say what you need to say. This will be an outlet for you but you will never actually send the postcard.
  • Visit an art gallery. Take the time while you’re there to reflect on emotions that you may feel while seeing the picture. Or get inspiration to recreate your own version.
  • Create a collage. Create a collage using photographs, memorabilia, or even magazines. The collage could be of favorite memories, quotes, emotions, or just items that stand out to you.
  • Close your eyes. Close your eyes & just draw. Shutting off one of your senses increases the awareness of your other senses. Just feel, don’t think.
  • Draw your dreams. When we sleep our minds process a ton. Keep pen & paper next to your bed. When you wake up try to write down your dreams before you forget. Later on draw them out & see what you notice.
Related: 32 Art Therapy Activities

You can also find inspiration for your art in a variety of places. Try taking your work outside, taking a class, or even just taking a nature walk.

If you find that you art therapy isn’t for you, then there are other forms of creative coping available such as photography, scrapbooking, dance, music, & so much more.

Don’t let the doubt of “I’m not creative” hold you back from trying art therapy.

How will you cope today?

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What exactly is art therapy?