What is Art Therapy?

Art Psychotherapy

▼ Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy

▼ Through the use of visual arts and the creative process, art therapy allows people to explore internal and unconscious aspects of the self

▼ This allows for identification, understanding, and integration of parts of the person which can be difficult to understand and articulate through a primarily verbal process

▼ Art therapy allows for a fuller and more holistic way to view difficult to process events, memories, beliefs, thoughts and emotions

Creative Expression

▼ The art created in art therapy acts as an external expression of this content and becomes a container or a place to hold or put down what someone may be struggling with

▼ Sometimes the art is the expression in itself, and no other words or expression is needed; sometimes the art gives the artist the words they may not have been able to express

▼ It allows us to see things differently, from a different perspective

▼ This is not meant to be fine art; it is used as an expression – no artistic experience or fine art skill is necessary


▼ When engaging in creativity and art, people use a different part of their brain than they would to think about a memory or tell a story (as in talk-therapy)

▼ It is literally thinking about it differently

▼ This can lead to forming new pathways in the brain, allowing for new ways of understanding and healthier coping behaviour to become more reflexive

Processing the Art

▼ The interpretation of the art is for the individual artist alone

▼ The Art Therapist is there to guide you through the processing of your own art – not to provide the interpretations for you

▼ Only the person who created the art work carries the thoughts, feelings, memories, and beliefs held in the images – it is their understanding alone that defines what the art work is saying

What to expect when coming to an Unearth Art Therapy group or individual session:

Opening check-in

▼ Intention, mindfulness, coming into the process

▼ Goals or intentions for the session; is there an idea in mind of what you want to work on?

Therapeutic directive

▼ This is meant as a starting point, for the artist to interpret and adapt

▼ Artists always have the option to make spontaneous art

▼ It is encouraged to take a moment to meditate or sit with eyes closed to process intention and thoughts around the activity

Art making

▼ Painting, drawing, collage, sculpting, construction, etc.

▼ Tea served 

▼ Individual check-ins during the art-making process

▼ Support with materials (i.e. replace paint water, help to find specific items, brainstorming alternatives if needed)

▼ Artists have access to full art therapy studio and materials

▼ Taking a break at some point is encouraged


▼ Check-in around the art-making process 

▼ Sharing and processing of artwork

Resources & Links

Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA), BC Art Therapy Association (BCATA) and Art Therapy Without Borders are helpful resources to learn more about Art Therapy.

This website is a co-creation by the following contibuters:

Web development and graphic design by Raynefyre Grayce

Photography by Melanie Orr Photography

Layers of  Time background image by Synnatschke Photography