Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses the process of making art to help patients express thoughts or feelings that might be difficult to convey verbally and, as a result, may not ordinarily have an effective outlet. Rather than speech, it focuses on things such as symbols, colors, and sensory perceptions. In art therapy, the final result is not what is important; the process itself is what is most beneficial.

There are a variety of reasons that people may find it difficult to express certain ideas and emotions into words. In some cases, these thoughts may stem from feelings or experiences that the person does not connect to them or is not aware of; in other cases, physical or mental medical conditions may significantly impair a person’s ability to verbally express themselves in general.

Art therapy can be helpful for a wide range of people and, as a result, is used in many different settings, including hospitals, clinics, and even some non-healthcare settings (such as schools). It can be practiced effectively with individuals, couples, families, and groups, and has been shown to provide some relief for a variety of medical problems, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain

The creative process that you engage in during art therapy is guided by a clinician with specialized training in this area of psychotherapy. It is not important for you to be a skilled artist for art therapy to be effective for you; everyone has some degree of creativity, art therapy can utilize many different artistic mediums, including:

  • Coloring
  • Painting
  • Collage-making
  • Abstract designs
  • Ceramic art
  • Non-traditional materials

If you’re interested in exploring the potential of art therapy to improve your mental health by helping you find new ways to express yourself, you can schedule an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Integrative Health Department by calling (718) 206-6914.