Art Therapy Has a Positive Impact on Depression

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

deak of colored pencils

As you know, depression is like a cloud hanging over everything you do. It alters who you are by affecting how you interact with and treat others. It diminishes the joys of your life and makes you see your future as a drudgery.

But, thankfully, there is hope when it comes to treating depression. In addition to medication and counseling (both vital tools of recovery), art therapy has a positive impact on depression.

What is Art Therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy–an expressive therapy–is using art as a therapeutic treatment for various illnesses and challenges, all within a professional setting. Art therapy has been shown as a way to both detect and treat depression. It can be in group setting or individualized. It most often includes drawing, painting and sculpting.

How Art Therapy Works

Art therapy works by giving you a way to articulate emotions that are often difficult to verbalize. The idea is to use art to facilitate communication.

This therapy has the following benefits:

  • It allows you to connect with others in a nonthreatening setting.
  • It allows you to let go of your emotions. It helps you begin trusting yourself, your therapist and others, which aids in the healing process.
  • Through art evaluation, you can pinpoint areas in your life that need changing or attention.
  • You have an actual product you can see and learn through by creating art.

What Art Therapy Isn’t

Remember, this isn’t an art class. A therapist’s focus is never to critique your expressive art or your technique. They don’t care if what you draw or paint is pretty to look at. They only want to understand what your art means to you.

They will help you interpret the meaning behind your art. As a result, you should enjoy art therapy, even if you are not artistic. Painting or drawing a masterpiece is not what art therapy is about. It’s about healing through expressive means.

Art Therapy and Depression

Art provides a pleasure factor not often associated with basic counseling. It doesn’t just encourage communication alone. It also provides an outlet for expression. An outlet that is less intimidating for many people than using words. To better understand the concept, consider the graffiti that is present in many cities.

These drawings or tags are drawn as a way for the individual to “make their mark.” In the same way, art therapy allows those who are suffering from depression to express what is going on inside. To “make their mark” on their world.

What Your Art Can Say About You

The therapist assigned to your art therapy class will of course make their own assessments regarding your drawings or paintings. However, there are a few common types of creations that are associated with various feelings and conditions.

For some examples, read below:

  • Drawings that contain hollow or bare spaces sometimes indicate a sense of emptiness in a person.
  • Anxiety and loneliness are often expressed through common images, such as drawings of trees, houses or nature. It can also be expressed through harsh lines, isolated or inaccessible figures and bizarre coloring.
  • Symptoms of depression are often expressed through faintness of a drawing or the lack of detail. It can also be shown through the limited use of color or the use of only dark colors.

The above examples indicate just a few ways your art can communicate your feelings. Once these emotions are defined, your therapist can help you work through these issues and overcome your depression.


  1. Rachel Grumman, Expressive Therapy, Healthline, December 9, 2013,
  2. Joanne M. Finnegan, The Effect of Art Therapy on Depression, Alfred Dadler, October 2009,

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