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Art Therapy



  • Art therapy helps treat mental and physical health problems by drawing, painting, or using other art materials.
  • Art therapy can help your child relax and focus on exploring thoughts and feelings that your child may not be able to put into words.


What is art therapy?

This therapy uses art to treat physical and mental health problems. Art therapy may involve using:

  • Collage materials and colored paper
  • Crayons or pastels
  • Pencils, pens, or charcoal
  • Modeling clay
  • Paints

Art therapists may also suggest ways to use art at home.

Art therapy may help your child:

  • Explore and express feelings
  • Improve how he or she feels about self. Alcohol: A Women's Health Issue
  • Make positive changes in moods and emotions
  • Be more aware of self and environment
  • Lessen stress
  • Improve concentration, attention span, and memory
  • Recover from traumatic brain injury

Art therapy can be effective for children with autistic spectrum disorder.

How does it work?

Art therapy may be done one-on-one, or in a group. Your child doesn’t need any skills or experience in art. Working with an art therapist can help your child relax and focus on exploring thoughts and feelings that your child may not be able to put into words. The therapist may suggest that your child use a certain medium, such as clay or paints, based on goals for your child’s treatment.

Art therapy may be done alone, or as part of regular counseling sessions. Most art therapy sessions last from 60 to 90 minutes, but may be longer or shorter, depending on your child’s needs.

How do I find a therapist?

Art therapists may work with healthcare providers, psychologists, occupational and physical therapists. Ask questions and get referrals from people you know and trust. You could check with:

  • Your healthcare provider
  • School teachers or school counselors
  • Family members or friends who have been in therapy
  • Your health insurance company
  • Your employee assistance program (EAP) at work
  • Local mental health or human service agencies
  • Professional associations of psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors (In many states art therapists can become licensed as counselors or mental health workers.)

For more information, contact:

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2020-07-09
Last reviewed: 2017-09-25
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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