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Art Therapy - A Holistic View

Article by: Paromita Ray

Edited by: Atri Das

Illustrations: Ayush Chakraborty | Dr. Ria Das

"Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain" - Carl Jung

Within this framework of our physical body rests a soul so infinite and dynamic that it becomes impossible to express. The vast landscape of dreams and thoughts weave several stories that fade away to eternity. The unseen and the unexpressed comes through those abstract forms where you pour in color, or simply scribble your life story through greyscale. The canvas of life comes to life through art!

Yes, art has been a constant therapeutic medium of expression of the unexpressed. Delve deep into the infinite realm of your mind and soul through your artwork, each of which will be a window to your soul. Express your deepest untold emotions, your anxieties, and your fears and even the joy in you and participate in this unique never before the platform. While art is the common medium, an art class and an art therapy session are processes ways apart.


In order to be able to completely understand art therapy, it is essential to understand the difference between the two. Art class is conducted by a teacher or a coach whereas an art therapy class is guided and supervised with full confidentiality by a therapist who is trained in the same. While an art class is focused on teaching techniques that help the individual create a specific finished product more accurately, art therapy emphasizes focusing on the process and inner feelings and thoughts.

Through art therapy, people are able to focus on their own perceptions, imagination and feelings. They are encouraged to represent their inner world through their artwork. They place more emphasis on representation of the inner desires, conflicts and feelings. Art classes usually focus on the final product while Art therapy focuses on the journey.

Most importantly, for an art therapy class, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Whereas, in an art class more emphasis is laid on the correct way of forming the drawings or artwork as a whole.


Art therapy employs a wide variety of techniques. Some of these include drawing, painting, colouring, sculpting, collage, doodling and scribbling.

Mandala art and Zentangles have also gained popularity and is an excellent medium to work on. For young children superhero comic strips and simple drawings of people and houses may also lead to interesting way finding the inner conflicts and insecurities.


Prominent Art Therapist, Harriet Wadeson listed six main benefits of art being used as a form of therapy, as follows:

Imagery: In both children and adults, images play a prominent part of communication. Art therapy helps in creating better images of our inner world and through the process it helps in enhancing our verbal narratives of those emotions and feelings.

Release of Repressed defenses: In our everyday lives, we often have thoughts the expression of which might not be socially acceptable. In such situations, we refrain ourselves from doing so. We therefore end up not being able to express all our thoughts and intents. This might, however, lead to the building of defenses. Art, on the other hand, does not make use of any such censor and acts as a window to our inner thoughts and our unconscious desires and intents.

Objectification: This helps the individual view himself as separate from his thoughts and emotions and in doing so gives him a feeling of existence. It helps him analyze his thoughts without feeling threatened, as for that moment those thoughts are only part of the art they created and not a part of them.

Permanence: Creating art leads to permanent record of thoughts and emotions as experienced by the individual at a particular moment. These records might help the person better analyze different issues as well as the progress made by him in future.

The Spatial Matrix: Unconscious thoughts are not bound by time or logic or the rules of language. Art therefore provides a better way of expressing these. It is a representation of the spatial structure of data.

Creative and physical energy: Creating art involves being active. It is not a passive pursuit. It thus releases creative energy and allows people to be able to engage and understand the thoughts and emotions behind the creation.


Art therapy is a safe place to explore as it has no side effects. Since there is no right or wrong way of doing it, art therapy serves as the perfect medium of expression even for the most trivial conflicts. It is an instant relaxer and its intuitive nature encourages an individual to reflect on himself or herself. In crux, it may be undertaken by anyone who wants to explore deeper into oneself and of course for those who need a lot of comfort space to vent out the negatives.

Art is an extremely powerful medium of expression of inner thoughts which makes art therapy a promising approach.

Image source: Google

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