Five Mental Health Benefits of Art Therapy

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Art possesses the ability to inspire people and encourage them to think about things from a different perspective. Art also transcends across many different platforms and has become essential in sustaining recovery in that it promotes inner growth, self-expression, self-confidence, and overall better mental health. Research shows that art provokes thought, inspiration, and creativity because it stimulates and strengthens areas of the brain, helping to increase overall brain function, which promotes better focus, memory, and motor skills.

In your recovery and mental health, art is an essential step because it helps people communicate thoughts, ideas, or fears in a way that verbal communication sometimes cannot. Art also cultivates resilience, insight, and advances social skills. Here are five ways in which art can improve your mental health.

Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

Art can instill a sense of calm, productivity, and mindfulness. Inciting these responses through art as a practice can help reduce feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety. Additionally, many studies measure the relationship between art and its influence on anxiety. Such studies showed that those who participated in one-hour-long art sessions once per week for several weeks reported having improved feelings of worry, communication, anxiety, and self-confidence.

For similar reasons, art helps with anxiety; it can also alleviate symptoms of depression. The reasons for art and its positive impact on reducing depression is multifaceted. Perhaps the most significant contributing factor is that it serves as a non-verbal form of self-expression. Exercising practices that involve painting, drawing, writing, or playing music are great ways to help you express yourself without the fear of overthinking what you might say to speak how you feel. If you are trying to process deep emotional feelings, completing a relaxing craft can help you feel more comfortable about your feelings. It could begin to influence more effective therapies and a stronger understanding of the underlying issue.

Once an individual completes an art project, they may have an easier time going through talk therapy. An art therapist may ask about your feelings during the process of creating art and what emotions came out, helping you better understand your thought process and putting your feelings into words. 

Better Mental Function

Sometimes in recovery and especially in early recovery, your senses might feel dulled as though you cannot concentrate or focus. Participating in artistic practices could give your feelings the jump start they have been needing. Art has the power to increase your ability to concentrate. Creating art can help you shift into a state of stimulated relaxation, allowing your brain to focus on something without feeling distracted by external stresses. Since art helps strengthen your focus, you can also stand to benefit from having a sense of tranquility while simultaneously feeling ready to attack any mental challenge; that is, art helps create resiliency within. 

Art also helps strengthen motor skills, which helps with our physical and mental responses to external stimuli, allowing you to think and move faster.

Improves Self-Esteem

Positive experiences can influence your feelings of self-worth. That being said, negative experiences can affect your feelings of self-worth just as much. For example, if you are still defining yourself by your past mistakes and experiences, you likely feel a lower sense of self-worth. However, recovery is all about moving forward and realizing that you are no longer that person. Although it may be challenging, and such negative thought patterns take a toll on your mental health, moving forward is essential. 

Art therapy improves self-esteem by allowing you to challenge yourself and overcome these challenges, which leads to a stronger sense of self and self-efficacy. Setting a goal of finishing a painting or sketch or even learning a single chord on the guitar can build positive momentum.

Creative Release

Creating a piece of art, whether the medium is drawing, painting, writing, or music, can leave you with a lasting sense of self-satisfaction. Creative pursuits can lead to improved feelings of happiness, confidence, and inner peace. Exploring your creativity and reaching your pinnacle of self-expression is not only rewarding and peaceful, but it can leave you with a great sense of joy and understanding about yourself after each session.

Art is Preventative Care

Since art can engage our mental and physical capabilities, expanding our capacity helps to stave off cognitive decline. Continuing art as practice improves spatial reasoning, emotional resilience, and reduces the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment than in other therapy forms such as reading or meditation. You can participate in art at any age; however, starting at an earlier age decreases the chances of developing a cognitive disease or disorder.


Current studies support the benefits of art and its relation to helping improve mental health and addiction recovery. While art therapy is still growing, its powerful benefits continue to help propel it into the mainstream as an effective practice to implement into your daily or weekly regimen. At Avalon Malibu, we offer both conventional and alternative treatments because we believe that healthcare knowledge is ever-expanding and growing. We are big proponents of art therapy and offer classes where you can work with others or individually. We also understand that no one treatment can sustain lasting recovery and that it takes different approaches to treat different facets of your recovery needs. Our evidence-based mental health therapies and concurring effective addiction treatments are the epitomai of comprehensive care, all supported by an integration of mind, body, and spirit wellness. To get started on your recovery journey, reach out to Avalon Malibu, and our excellent staff will work with you to find the appropriate care to fit your individual needs. Never wait to get help. Call us today at (844) 857-5992. 

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