Create, Liberate, Integrate!

Create, Liberate, Integrate! is an art exhibition currently being held at Space  B, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta.


This is the culmination of a project focused on art as a means of self-expression for marginalised women and their children. I have had the honour to be part of this project earlier this year where I facilitated Art therapy group sessions with mothers and their children who had experienced or witnessed domestic abuse.

These sessions provided an opportunity to reflect on the mother-child relationship which may have been stained by years of abuse. Main themes that arose where the perpetrator’s continuous manipulation and undermining of the relationship and how to cope with this.
Attachment relationships in childhood also affect the way children continue to think
about themselves and their self-esteem. This can affect the ways in which they
manage their emotions and how to self-reflect even later on in adulthood. Therefore,
for the children, the group sessions were an opportunity to engage in safe and
meaningful play and art-making both with other children and with their mothers. The
groups gave an opportunity to the children to build a more secure attachment with the

Group therapy provides an opportunity for participants to observe others in the group
and give and receive valuable feedback. Both adults and children learn through this
form of social interaction. It can provide a safe space where the participant can reflect
and process their experiences of violence and understand the feelings that it brings
with it; shame, loss, guilt. They can support each other by witnessing and appreciating
each other’s art works. It can give them a sense of belonging and hence improve their
self worth. This in turn can equip them with the strength needed to go out there in the
world and face the hurdles that life will pose. The mother-child group sessions can
elicit more positive communication and a better attachment style between the mother
and the child. This will in turn give more security to the child which can also manifest
itself as an improvement in behaviour both when with the mother and also when with
other children.
This project is supported by the President’s Award for Creativity, Arts Council Malta and Spazju Kreattiv.

Dates: Wednesday 20 December 2017 – Sunday 7 January 2018  Venue: Space B


Art Therapy as a treatment for Depression

Depression can be challenging. If you have experienced it, then you know that the most basic tasks can become excruciating and leave you feeling apathetic and drained of your willpower. Simple tasks like getting out of bed, doing the laundry, and playing with your children may be daunting. While talk therapy and medications may be helpful, they are not the only solutions to relieving symptoms. This is where art therapy comes in. Art therapy has become an effective treatment in supporting, releasing, and integrating the symptoms of depression by supporting you in exploring depression via the senses. Although art might seem less conventional, it can be just as effective as talk therapy because it utilizes the whole body experience and not just the intellect.

When Words Do Not Speak

It can be difficult to open up to a complete stranger about your deepest and darkest emotions. Sometimes, we are taught to suppress our emotions and put on a blank face, even when experiencing inner turmoil. In art therapy, words are not always necessary. A mere lump of clay or a blank canvas can be far less threatening than giving voice to painful feelings, words, or images. The simple act of a scribble on paper can likely bring light to darkness, ignite conversation, or be a release for a depressing thought. Because something cannot be heard by the human ear does not mean that nothing is being said or revealed. Art therapy supports our process when words are not enough.

The Capacity to Feel Again

In addition to creating a communication bridge between you and your therapist, art therapy can also help you come to terms with what you are actually feeling. Perhaps you have felt numb or distanced and “incapable” of feeling when depressed. Creating art is at the heart of expression and emotion, supporting your capacity to feel again. Once you have created and externalized a part of yourself as something concrete and tangible, it is easier to acknowledge that such an emotion existed in the first place. By creating, you give yourself permission and voice to that which is difficult to speak. You might feel a sense of relief or a movement of your depression once you have transferred it onto your canvas.

Creating One’s Own Happiness

Research shows that when we observe something that we believe to be beautiful, the neurotransmitter dopamine—located in one of our pleasure centers in the brain—is released. Interestingly, the brain activity observed when we look at art is actually comparable to the brain activity representing love! It’s nice to know that in addition to having created your own art, positive feelings increase.

Research proves art therapy is a beneficial method of treating depression across a wide spectrum of personalities. Many even discover a newfound passion for art and are surprised at the talent that emerges once their emotions are channeled into their artwork. Only in this unique field are therapists performing what is considered by traditional psychoanalysts to be the hardest of tasks: getting those with depression to proactively express, manage, and overcome their symptoms … with the end result being something truly beautiful.


  1. Study shows art may help with depression. (2012, June 6). Retrieved June 12, 2012, from Art Therapy:
  2. Bar-Sela, G. (2007, Nov. 16). Art therapy improved depression and influenced fatigue levels in cancer patients on chemotherapy. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from
  3. Holm, M. (2011, Aug. 11). Art therapy for depression. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from Natural Therapy Pages:
  4. Riley, S. (2001, July). Art therapy with adolescents. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from US National Library of Medicine :
  5. Vann, M. (2012, April 4). 8 Unconventional ways to ease depression. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from Everyday Health:

© Copyright 2012 by Douglas Mitchell, MFTI, therapist in San Francisco, California. All Rights Reserved.

article taken from, on 18/04/2016

Art Therapy and Children

Even at a young age, art therapy can be beneficial. A large part of a child’s development is being able to be creative and learn how to express themselves. Art therapy gives children the opportunity to do both in a safe environment. Some common art therapy goals for young children are sensory awareness and integration, problem-solving skills, identification and expression of feelings, and increased self-esteem.

Here are a few examples of how to these apply common goals to art therapy interventions.

  • Sensory awareness and integration – Art therapy can be helpful for children with sensory issues. One way to work with children on this is to create a sensory collage. By using different types of fabrics, textures, colors, and paper to create a collage, a child can be introduced to sensory objects in a safe environment.
  • Problem solving skills – Developing problem solving skills for young children can increase their ability to come up solutions and positive behavior choices. One way to use art therapy for problem solving is to present a child with the problem and have them draw solutions to the problem. This gives them a visual representation of what they can do and may give them a better understanding of how to solve problems in the future.
  • Exploring feelings – Sometimes young children have a difficult time communicating their feelings. One art therapy intervention could be to draw all their different feelings and then have a discussion on when they experience each feeling. This may help children to externalize their feelings and understand what triggers their feelings.
  • Increased self-esteem – At a very young age, children start to develop self-esteem. Learning a new skill can help to increase their self-esteem and feel more confident. An art therapy intervention could be to teach them a new art skill, like introducing them to a new art medium. While this may seem intimidating at first for the child, the child’s ability to develop a new skill will help their self-identity and self-esteem.

Children are never too young to be creative. It is important that their creativity is fostered in a way that is beneficial to them. Art therapy is just one way that children can be creative while gaining the skills that can help them in their development.

this article was taken from For further reading about the benefits of art therapy with children visit 

Adult Colouring Books

INTERVIEW WITH CEO of BAAT. The use of adult colouring books is a new phenomenon that has taken the publishing world by storm. People have really enjoyed the activity of colouring ready-made images and patterns, and some service users with depression and anxiety have reported an improvement in the day-to-day management of their symptoms. There has also been some controversy about these books being sold as ‘Art Therapy’ books but paradoxically this has helped raise the profile of art therapy and of BAAT in the media and with the general public.

What is Art Therapy?

art therapyDefinitions

Who can use art therapy?

What does art therapy do?

Why use art therapy?

Do you need to be talented?

Why Art is a Wonderful form of Therapy?


Definition: Art Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

You don’t need to be talented or an artist to receive the benefits, and there are professionals that can work with you to dive into the underlying messages communicated through your art, which will aid in the healing process.

Art therapy can achieve different things for different people. It can be used for counseling by therapists, healing, treatment, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, and in the broad sense of the term, it can be used to massage one’s inner-self in a way that may provide the individual with a deeper understanding of him or herself.

Additional Definitions of Art Therapy

Art therapy, sometimes called creative arts therapy or expressive arts therapy, encourages people to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and through the creative process. From the Free disctionary

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses art materials, such as paints, chalk and markers. Art therapy combines traditional psychotherapeutic theories and techniques with an understanding of the psychological aspects of the creative process, especially the affective properties of the different art materials. From Wikipedia

Art therapy involves the creation of art in order to increase awareness of self and others. This in turn may promote personal development, increase coping skills, and enhance cognitive function. It is based on personality theories, human development, psychology, family systems, and art education. Art therapists are trained in both art and psychological therapy. From The New Medicine

And from the AATA, the definition of the profession:
Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness,  trauma or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use art in treatment, assessment and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.

Who Can Use Art Therapy?

For the most part, anyone can use art therapy. In a world where there is a multitude of ways to communicate and express one’s self, expressive arts therapy is yet another. One of the major differences between art therapy and other forms of communication is that most other forms of communication elicit the use of words or language as a means of communication. Often times, humans are incapable of expressing themselves within this limited range.

One of the beauties of art as therapy is the ability for a person to express his/her feelings through any form of art. Though there are other types of expressive therapies (such as the performing arts), expressive art therapy as discussed here typically utilizes more traditional forms of art…such as painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, or a variety of other types of visual art expression.

What Does an Art Therapist Do?

Art Therapists are trained in both therapy and art, and have studied and mastered both psychology and human development, having received a Master’s Degree. There are various requirements for becoming an art therapist well as certifications which means they are masters when it comes to using art as a springboard for everything from a general assessment of another person’s state to treatment for aiding serious illness. Art therapists can work with people of all ages, sex, creed, et al. They can help an individual, a couple, a family, or groups of people and depending on the situation, there may be numerous therapists working together as a clinical team.

Art therapists are trained to pick up on nonverbal symbols and metaphors that are often expressed through art and the creative process, concepts that are usually difficult to express with words. It is through this process that the individual really begins to see the effects of art therapy and the discoveries that can be made.

Why Would I Use Art Therapy?

As with most any therapy, art as therapy is generally used as a treatment for something – usually as a way to improve one’s emotional state or mental well-being. Expressive arts therapy doesn’t have to be used only as a treatment though. It can be used to relieve stress or tension, or it can be used as a mode of self-discovery. Many people can stand to use some sort of creative outlet.

Do You Need to be Talented?

Absolutely not. And you need not be “afraid” of expressing yourself through art. Though it may seem different and unnatural at first, it is typically because the individual is not used to communicating via the arts. The creative process can be one of the most rewarding aspects. Coupled with an art therapist, you should gradually, if not immediately, feel comfortable with this newfound form of expression. After all, the goal is not necessarily to create an art masterpiece.

Art: A Wonderful Form of Therapy

Expressive art therapy is the use of creative arts as a form of therapy and is a fantastic field that has proven to work wonders in many people’s lives. It can help someone express themselves, explore their emotions, manage addictions, and improve their self-esteem. It really helps children with developmental disabilities, however; art therapy is awesome because it can help anyone!

Have you ever noticed how much music, or doing an activity like drawing relaxes you after a long day? That is because it is very therapeutic. If you see a professional art therapist, they can help you interpret the feelings that pour into your design, and even help work through and resolve problems. Studies have also proven that colouring, even as an adult, has tremendous benefits. Unfortunately, colouring, drawing, painting, and playing music is very taboo in the adult world. Break away from that social expectation, and see how freeing it is to let your creativity flow.

Music, art, and dance are the main expressions for this variety of therapy. Music Therapy can be a mix of playing instruments, listening to music, and singing. Dance therapy utilizes dance and movement. It makes sense that it is so effective–lots of endorphins are released into your body when you shake it! Art therapy can be a mixture of drawing, colouring, painting, sculpting and pretty much everything else you can think of that is artistic. These are all things people love to do as hobbies, so why not use it to better yourself and show yourself some love?

Besides helping someone better their emotional being, art therapy is great for many other things. It can help general illness. Art is a fabulous escape from feeling icky. Art therapy can help someone who has a cancer diagnosis. Battling cancer takes both a very physical and emotional toll, and is even a struggle accepting the diagnosis. Art and dance are powerful expressions of these emotions, and can help relieve a lot of stress, anger, and sadness. Someone in need of therapy to have some relief after a disaster would also be an excellent candidate for artistic therapy.

There are so many uses and benefits to expressive arts therapies, that can help drastically improve people’s lives for a plethora of reasons. Even if you don’t need serious help, it can be a great way to release stress after a long work week. Art therapy is a growing field that is being more widely accepted, so it is also an opportunity as a career field! Be bold, be creative, and be expressive and give art therapy a try!

This definition of Art Therapy was taken from For further information about Art Therapy resources visit