An Introduction To Art Therapy: A Brief Guide to Art Therapy as an intervention for anxiety, stress and depression

Published on February 20, 2014

An Introduction to Art Therapy: A Brief Guide to Art Therapy
by Andrew Wright, Art Psychotherapist, based in Dubai, UAE.) 

What is Art Therapy?

Art Therapy is a well-developed profession in the US and the UK and is an approach that is used to help people of all ages.

Art Therapy is the use of the creative arts to express and reflect on emotional states with the guidance of an art therapist. It is effective as an approach due to the fact that it can help people express things that are difficult to talk about. It can help a person struggling with issues such as anxiety, anger management, stress, OCD and eating disorders

For example, art therapy can help people who have suffered traumatic experiences as often these are locked away in the mind and need the expression for the person to move on. Neuroscience tells us that these experiences are stored as visual memories and can affect brain development if not processed. Therefore creative activities can help to access these memories and a trained therapist can help one process these difficult experiences.

My approach at Art Therapy International Centre (ATIC)

At ATIC I work with children, adults, couples, and families. We use art therapy, and psychotherapy and counselling approach to help a person express how they feel. The process of art-making can help a child who struggles to talk about how they feel, and also help an adult who feels stuck such as a person who is anxious or depressed.

What is the difference between Art Therapy and an Art lesson?

Art Therapy is different than an art lesson as it is more about expressing how you feel. The important thing is the process rather than the end result. To be doing Art Therapy it must be under the guidance of a trained and registered art therapist.

Do I have to be good at art?

Art Therapy is about expressing how you feel so it is not important to be skilled at art. It can help everyone as any creative activity can stimulate the mind. With a trained professional art therapist the process of healing and change can begin.

What is an art therapist?

Art Therapists are trained therapists to a masters level and above so only people who have completed a Masters in Art Therapy can be called an art therapist. They are experts at helping a client use creativity and art-making to process difficult experiences and increase self-awareness. This can help the client to start to resolve difficulties and cope with symptoms of stress and trauma. 

Art Therapy and Children

Art Therapy can help a child develop emotionally as they learn to express their feelings through creativity and play. This can help the child to regulate their emotions and build up their self-esteem. Also, art therapy can help a child with learning needs as verbal communication may be difficult.

Art Therapy and Adults

Art Therapy can help people who feel stuck or depressed as sometimes it's easier to express visually than having to tell someone verbally. This can feel safer and then when the person is ready the difficult emotions can be explored.

Art Therapy and Couples

I have combined the art therapy approach with relationship therapy as this has proven to be an effective way for couples to explore their difficulties and be more effective partners. Sometimes couples are stuck in a negative loop and the only way out is for them to stop blaming each other and to express how they feel about each other. I use a variety of creative approaches to help couples with communication and emotional intimacy.

The benefits of using Art Therapy

  • Art making can be a safer way of expressing emotions and more hands-on and tangible.
  • Art Therapy can help people who struggle to talk about their feelings.
  • For children, art therapy can aid in the development of abstract thinking skills and emotional development.


Category(s):Abortion, Abuse / Abuse Survivor Issues, Addictions, Adjusting to Change / Life Transitions, Adult ADHD, Adult psychological development, Anger Management, Anxiety, Art Therapy, Asperger's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Bipolar, Child Development, Couple Counseling, Depression, Disability, Emotional Intelligence, Family Problems, Forgiveness, Learning Difficulties, Marital Counseling

Written by:

Andrew C Wright HCPC registered (UK)

Registered art psychotherapist trained at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2002. Has over 20 years of experience of working in the health care field.

Andrew is currently based in the UK and works with children, adults/ couples who have difficulties such as attachment, trauma, stress, anxiety and depression.

Andrew C Wright HCPC registered (UK) belongs to Art Therapy International Centre in Singapore