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The Effectiveness of Art Therapy

If you are reading this article, you are probably familiar with the term Art Therapy. But just as a refresher:

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy, benefiting children, young adults, adults, and the elderly, which uses art mediums to promote communication, expression and address emotions that are confusing and distressing (1).

Now that we know what Art Therapy means, we can ask ourselves, is this therapeutic tool helpful? And how effective is it? Is it something you can benefit from?

When it comes to Art Therapy or any other form of clinical therapy, the most important thing to remember is that everyone responds to the therapy differently. Art therapy cannot be a one-size-fits-all but rather a personalized service.

Art therapy has a unique element that makes it stand out from other forms of therapy, which is because of its nonverbal and experiential character using mediums such as drawing, painting, and collages to allow the expression of feelings, memories, and thoughts (3).

Art Therapy has been found to be effective in treating the following:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Mood

  • Trauma

  • Distress

  • Quality of Life

  • Self-esteem

(2) (3)(4)

For those of you who are curious to understand the inner workings of Art Therapy, well look no further. For example, take someone who suffers from PTSD. Art Therapy has been found to help process the traumatic experience by opening and harmonizing the traumatic memory through communication and documentation.

This is made possible as art therapeutic interventions allow individuals to distance themselves from the emotions and use their cognitive function to explore their emotions and encourage meaning-making processes (3)

Art Therapy is effective due to its non-threatening nature. When Art Therapy was used to help troubled adolescents, it was found to be effective in helping them process their emotions without feeling threatened (5).

This is made possible as the art created by the adolescent in a session helps the therapist understand their problems, particularly sensitive situations, for example, abuse or too embarrassing for the adolescent to reveal.

I hope that this article has been insightful, and you were able to learn something new today. Do you have any other questions come up? Share in the comments below.


1. BAAT, B.A. of A.T., 2021, About Art Therapy Available at: (Accessed 7 September 2021).

2. Ruddy, R. and Milnes, D., 2005 Art Therapy for Schizophrenia or Dchizophrenia-like Illnesses. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (4), p.CD003728.

3. Schouten, K.A. et al., 2015 The Effectiveness of Art Therapy in the Treatment of Traumatized Adults: A Systematic Review on Art Therapy and Trauma. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 16(2), pp.220–228.

4. Uttley, L. et al., 2015 Clinical effectiveness of Art Therapy: Quantitative Systematic Review, Southampton (UK), NIHR Journals Library.

5. Wolk, N., Barak, A. and Yaniv, D., 2020 Different Shades of Beauty: Adolescents’ Perspectives on Drawing From Observation. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, p.687.


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