Why use art therapy?

Images and Words

One of the best-known advantages of art therapy is that it permits thoughts and feelings to be expressed in images as well as words.   In this sense, it is a more accessible form of communication for those individuals who have language difficulties such as small children or stroke patients. Likewise, it can facilitate communication in cross-cultural situations when the therapist and client are not fluent in a common language. It is also very useful in balancing overly rational communication as well as in times when a client is ‘stuck’ in verbal therapy.

However, art therapy is not simply an alternative to be sought only when conventional “talk therapies” fail to meet a person’s needs. Indeed, art therapy is a valuable psychotherapeutic approach in its own right.

Many Other Benefits

Some of the more important benefits offered by art therapy are:

  • Through the making of art, art therapy strengthens creativity. This is important since the creative process, itself is fundamental to the attainment of all positive change, including personal growth, healing, insight and problem resolution.
  • Similar to dreams, artistic works can be gateways to the unconscious, thus increasing the likelihood of revealing underlying issues, conflicts and concerns which can then be addressed in therapy.
  • The created artwork can serve as a powerful record of the artist-client’s therapeutic progress and may be particularly useful for review at pivotal points throughout treatment.
  • Art therapy helps to foster integration, wholeness and coherence by encouraging the artist-client to communicate both verbally and visually, as well as to engage in a process that is physical, emotional and intellectual.
  • When making art in a supportive environment, individuals are helped to engage in an experience which can be absorbing and enjoyable. Creative activity can help to lower stress and intrusive negative thinking, as well as increase confidence, concentration and positive feelings. This in situ learning transfers readily to other areas of life.


© 2015 Quebec's Art Therapy Association - AATQ
911 Jean-Talon Street East, Suite 307-B, Montreal, Quebec

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