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What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses creative processes and art-making as a therapeutic non-verbal intervention to improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

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  • creates a safe place for self-expression

  • invites curiosity and self-exploration

  • reduces stress and regulate emotions

  • grounding as a mindful practice

  • increase sense of control

  • improve self-esteem and awareness

  • gain perspectives and insights

Common questions:

Can I do art therapy without skills / experience?

Absolutely! You do not need any art skills or experience at all. If you can make marks on a page, you can do art therapy.

What ages can art therapy be for?

Art therapy is suitable for ages 3 and above. That includes children, youth, and adults.

How is an art therapy session different from a talk therapy session?

Art therapy incorporates art directives or prompts that help to explore topics and issues beyond talk therapy and is facilitated by a trained art therapist who has undergone specialized education and received the designation of "Art Therapist".

How do I prepare for an art therapy session?

You do not need expensive or fancy art materials. If you are coming to sessions in person, art materials are provided. If you are joining sessions from the comfort of your own home or space, you may simply use whatever is available - paper, pencils, markers, coloured materials. You could also reserve a notebook or sketchbook to use for sessions as well.

More information

Art therapy is a somatic-based approach

  • Art therapy uses the body as a resource to regulate the autonomic nervous system (which is in charge of fight/flight/freeze responses).

  • Art-making involves physical movement and repetition which helps to regulate breathing and heart rate, slowing down the body and resulting in a calmer state of mind.

and a multi-sensory modality

  • Art-making stimulates and integrates the senses and helps to focus on the present moment.

  • Creating and making art helps with brain connectivity.

  • Making art focuses on the felt sense and combines bodily sensation ( ↑ bottom-up ↑ ) and thinking ( ↓ top-down ↓ ).

Art Therapy helps to heal from the bottom-up ↑

  • Cognitive functioning (at the “top” level of the brain) may be inaccessible, especially for those who have experienced trauma, and individuals not at the developmental stage to utilize the prefrontal cortex.

  • Art therapy provides access to parts of the brain without using language, going beyond the limitations of talk therapy which focuses and relies heavily on words and left brain functioning.

  • Art-making connects both right and left brain with images and emotions and language and cognition.

Art therapy integrates the whole brain!

  • It involves the brainstem (by way of the limbic system) for body regulation, the midbrain for motor movement and visual processing, and the limbic system for emotional regulation.

  • It promotes and repairs physiological functioning, emotional experience expression and processing.

  • Last but not least, it activates the brain's reward pathway and increases dopamine and serotonin by releasing these happy chemicals! 

About the multi-layered process...

  • Art-making can be planned or spontaneous.

  • Art involves the use of metaphors and symbols which allows unconscious material to emerge and enter consciousness.

  • The process of art-making creates more mental balance (also reducing internal conflicts) and increases self-awareness.

and as an embodied practice:

  • There are different art mediums that incorporate movement: e.g. scribble drawing, whole body drawing, bilateral movements, clay and sculpting.

  • Art and play create narratives which enable us to gain clarity and coherence as we make sense of our experiences.

  • The creative process is sacred and held by the presence of a witness (in this case, an art therapist) who does not interpret your art, but gently guides you to make meaning and understand more


“Art speaks where words are unable to explain.”

– Pam Holland

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