Art as Therapy: The Mental Health Benefits of Creativity

1. What is art therapy? 

Art therapy is a combination of psychotherapy and creativity. The guided creative process, as well as the end product, can be used to enhance a person’s emotional, spiritual, social, cognitive, and physical well-being. It is a way to externalize emotion beyond words.

2. How does art-making promote healing? 

Art-making on a regular basis can help with: stress relief, giving us space to reflect beyond words,helping us connect with our creative side, so we can see more options, rather than restrictions. It can also make us feel empowered to witness our own creation, feeling connected with ourselves, staying grounded with our present

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3. What are some of the benefits of art therapy vs. regular talk therapy?

Sometimes it might be hard for us to express how they are feeling or thinking through words and art therapy can gives us the avenue and guidance to express it beyond words, beyond syntax and any sort of structure. The visual representation that we create can help us feel validated and empowered to make choices. We can observe the progress we make through the art. The externalization helps us set apart our thoughts and feelings from us so that we can see visually that we are not our problem. 

4. As an art therapist, you must see first hand the transformative power of art. Can you share with us an experience that stood out for you?

The most transformative experience I've observed within my art therapy sessions with clients is to witness the transformation of how one relates to a feeling that they used to fear or resist. This then unlocks access to different ways of being and help them to become more free-thinking in making future choices. 

5. What is your favourite prompt/exercise to get a client to start thinking visually and begin to unlock their creativity?

Drawing your breath with your favourite colour! This helps to bring the client to the here and now, thus helping let go of the preconceived notion of how art is supposed to look like and to connect with seeing art as an avenue to express our inner experience. 

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About the Authors:

Diliana Popova is the founder and CEO of Artichoke Art- a Toronto-based startup on a mission to transform the way we connect with art and creativity. Artichoke Art curates, installs and rotates pop-up art galleries in commercial spaces and also provides creativity activation sessions for teams. Artichokeart.ca

Pearl Lee is the Co-founder and CEO of Full Circle Art Therapy. Full Circle Art Therapy provides affordable mental health service through Art Therapy. They deal with anxiety, depression, trauma , loss & grief, eating disorder, addiction and mood disorder and are based in Toronto. https://www.fullcircleatc.com/