What is Art Therapy?

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Written by Erin and Nina

“From my personal experience of art therapy and from being a trainee art therapist myself, I would argue that this is an amazing form of therapy, which allows you to express yourself and work through your emotions in a healthy way. Even if you feel like the therapy may not be for you, you are able to learn so many new tools and techniques to help ground and connect with yourself.” – Nina

“Art Therapy is a fantastic way to process trauma, worries and grief. From personal experience as well as from sessions as a trainee, I’ve seen how playing with art materials can help an individual to process emotions that they would be unable to verbalise. Art therapy is not about how good your art is, but how it makes you feel. There is no right or wrong and this is one of my favourite things about this type of therapy.” – Erin

Erin Heeley & Nina Johnston. Erin & Nina are both trainee art therapists.

What is Art Therapy?


A form of psychotherapy that uses art as a way to communicate. The therapist doesn’t use the art as a diagnostic tool, but instead as a way of communicating. This can be favourable for those who find it difficult to communicate how they are feeling verbally. It can often be hard to put words to how we’re feeling or it can be difficult to say some things out loud. This is why through this type of therapy, words are not necessarily needed.

Image for "What is Art Therapy?"
TEXT: You don’t need to be good to do Art Therapy - the art created in each session is solely for you as a way to express your emotions. 
IMAGE: Painted canvas

What’s involved?

This can be one-to-one or in a group setting, but it’s not an art lesson! You don’t need to be good at art to do the sessions – the work created in each session is solely for you as a way to express your emotions. 

Some of the art materials used can be pencils, pens, soft pastels, oil pastels, paint, cardboard, clay, watercolour paint, collage and many, many more.

Image for "What is Art Therapy?"IMAGE: Pots of paint brushes, colouring pencils and art supplies.

Who is this therapy suitable for?

It is suitable for all ages and abilities such as children, adolescents, adults or elderly. Equally, it can be beneficial for people with physical or learning disabilities, neurological conditions and chronic illnesses.

Everyone is unique and not all styles of therapy will feel right. But if you enjoy making art, or find it difficult to put words to how you are feeling or you even find it hard to talk to someone then this type of therapy may be able to help.

Chris Rankin
Author: Chris Rankin

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