Monthly Archives: April 2016

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