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Therapeutic Art Activities For Happiness

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

Art therapy is an effective way to creatively express your thoughts and feelings to reduce anxiety, increase self-esteem, and resolve other emotional challenges in your life. The American Art Therapy Association states that art therapy can be an effective mental health treatment for individuals who have experienced depression, trauma, medical illness, and social difficulties.

"Art therapy has been around since the 1940s. Two pioneers in the field, Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer, used art therapy as a way to help clients tap into their inner thoughts, feelings and experiences through creative expression. Combined with talk therapy, it can help people deal with strong emotions, increase self-awareness and self-worth and decrease stress and anxiety. Art therapy can involve a variety of creative expression including drawing, painting, coloring or sculpting, to name a few." (Holly Tiret, The benefits art therapy can have on mental and physical health)

Benefits Of Using Therapeutic Art Activities:

  • Gain self-awareness

  • Artistic growth

  • Emotional release

  • Higher self-esteem and confidence

  • Reduce stress and anxiety

  • Stimulates mental functions

  • Promotes better quality of life

Two Common Myths Associated With Therapeutic Art Activities:

  1. You need to be good at art. - This is not the case at all! Therapeutic art activities are not about what the end result looks like. It's about the process and what emotions or thoughts emerge as you express yourself creatively. The aesthetic appeal of your work is not important here, as there is no “right” or “wrong” way to make art. Individuals with little or no art experience can still find satisfaction and transformation in the process!

  2. Therapeutic art activities are only meant for kids. - Untrue. Art therapy is effective for most ages and populations. While children are naturally inquisitive and less resistant towards art-making, adults can also benefit from this multi-sensory form of expression. Art has the ability to bypass the logical, rational areas of the brain to access and shed light on the unconscious.

Five Therapeutic Art Activities For Happiness:

  1. Create a box of values. First, collage or paint a box the represents you. Then, place items inside the box that represent the things you value the most.

  2. Document your gratitude visually. What things are you grateful for in your life? Paint or collage a work that represents these things.

  3. Make anchor art. Who are the anchors in your life? In this project, you’ll make an anchor and decorate it with the people and things that provide you stability and strength.

  4. Draw all the positive things in your life. Everyone has at least one good thing in life, so sit down and figure out what makes you happy– then draw it.

  5. Make a drawing related to a quote you like. Take the words of wisdom from someone else and turn them into something visually inspiring.

I wanted to share some of my favorite therapeutic art activities I've completed recently. It has really helped me process and explore my depression after unexpectedly losing my grandfather in late December 2021. I hope you find inspiration and motivation to try some of these art activities!

Letting Go Art Activity:

Write down on a piece of paper things that are weighing you down. Paint over the words and let it dry. As you rip up the paper, meditate on literally releasing the things that are weighing you down. Use the ripped up pieces to make a butterfly, bird, angel, or whatever symbolizes transformation and letting go to you.

Here's my finished piece from this activity:

(I didn't have glue so I used tape to hold the pieces together)

Letting Go Art Therapy Activity

Meditation Art Activity:

Take 3-5 minutes to sit in a quiet place and meditate. As you meditate, notice what images and colors appear for you. Now draw and/or paint what you visualized during your meditation.

Here's my finished piece from this activity:

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut


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