FAQ – Art Therapy Edition

Q. What is art therapy?

A. Art therapy uses a combination of psychotherapy and the creative

process to help facilitate personal insight and understanding. Art therapy is an opportunity for us to externalize internal feelings and thoughts. It can be particularly helpful when we just don’t have the words to express what’s going on inside.

Art therapy is facilitated by a professionally trained art therapist who has met certain requirements and has specific qualifications, including a master’s degree or master’s level diploma in art therapy.

Q. Do I have to be good at art in order to engage in or benefit from art therapy?

A.  You do not need to be “good” at art or have any prior experience in art making in order to benefit from art therapy! There is no “right” or “wrong” way to make art in art therapy! Your art will not be judged or evaluated in art therapy.

Q. Who can benefit from art therapy?

A. Art therapy is used with a broad and diverse range of populations and can be a helpful for many individuals, couples, families and groups. Art therapy is also used with populations of all ages! According the Canadian Art Therapy Association (2017) current literature has supported the efficacy of art therapy in addressing:

  • Addictions or substance use issues
  • Developmental disorders and disabilities (e.g. ADD, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder)
  • Coping with physical health conditions
  • Depression, anxiety and mental health
  • Grief and bereavement
  • Trauma or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
  • Aging and geriatric issues

While art therapy can address many issues, it is important to consider the art therapist’s particular training and areas of competence.

During our work together, we can address a variety of concerns including depression, anxiety, stress, grief, trauma, life transitions and work towards opportunities for building coping skills, personal growth and emotional wellness.

Q. What will happen during an art therapy session?

A. During your first session, there will be some important paperwork to go over. This will include topics such as your rights as a client, confidentiality and its limits, and fees. We will also spend some time going over your personal history and explore your goals. Then it’s time to make art! You may choose to explore whatever you like within the art, but I can also offer suggestions if you’re feeling stuck. Once your art is complete, we will spend some time exploring what you have made. We will notice any insights, associations, feelings, and thoughts that might arise from the creation and completion of your art piece.

(This is an example of what a session might look like. We can work towards finding a pace and structure that works best for you and your goals.)

Q. Is the art therapist going to interpret or analyze my artwork?

A. No! Artwork does not always require “interpretation”. If there is any meaning or significance in your artwork, these insights will come from the creator (you) and not the art therapist! The art therapist is not there to interpret or assign any meaning to your artwork. The art therapist is present as witness and support who will work alongside you.

Q. Can art therapy be done online?

A. Absolutely! There are even some advantages to engaging in art therapy online. For example, no travel is required; you can engage in art therapy from the comfort of your own home!

Q. What materials do I need for online art therapy?

A. Ultimately, this is up to you! You do not have to go out and buy expensive art materials in order to engage in art therapy. You can use a pen, pencil, markers, crayons, paint, collage, or even found materials (like leaves, sticks, and stones!).

I have a small list of suggestions if you are feeling stuck or would like some more ideas. I also provide a small art therapy material kit for a fee.

Still have questions about art therapy? You can book a free 30-minute consultation with Melanie to ask any additional questions you may have and explore if art therapy is the right fit for you! You can also visit canadianarttherapy.org OR arttherapy.org for more information on what art therapy is all about!


Canadian Art Therapy Association. (2017). What is art therapy. http://www.canadianarttherapy.org/what-is-art-therapy/