10 Ways Art Therapy Can Improve Your Mood

Patients who receive a neurological or neuropsychological evaluation from a CNNH expert may receive a treatment recommendation for Creative Arts Therapy, including: music therapy, dance/movement therapy or art therapy. Some might think this a curious treatment option coming from a brain health expert, but, in fact, Art Therapy is internationally recognized as an intervention for a wide range of clinical diagnoses, including (but not limited to): ADHD / cognitive disorders and dementia / autism spectrum disorders / epilepsy / anxiety and mood disorders / trauma-related disorders / PTSD / traumatic brain injury.

Modalities for this therapeutic intervention are selected based on each individuals’ interests, such as drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, collage and much more! Consider these ways Art Therapy might improve the mood of someone you love…

  • Helps re-activate pleasure centers in the brain
    Experiences that engage the senses, such as art-making can activate the release of pleasure-related neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, reinforcing art as a mood-enhancing experience.
  • Boosts self-esteem and promote sense of self-worth
    Making an artistic creation in real space can reinforce confidence in abilities and skills that can then translate to other situations and settings outside of art therapy. Seeing a physical product that you have created with your own two hands can encourage feelings of self-worth and control over your environment.
  • Reduces physical stress and tension by serving as a cathartic outlet
    The physical manipulation of media, such as clay or painting, can relieve tension. Both fine and gross motor movements utilizing art media can be powerful in discharging energy in the body and inducing a sense of calming relief.
  • Provides space for externalizing inner experiences
    Inner experiences are sometimes difficult to articulate with words. Art making allows an individual to externalize inner feelings and may bring greater awareness to an individual of how they are feeling at any given moment.
  • Creates a sense of purpose and mastery, control over environment
    Art can be a purposeful task that allows an individual to exert control over choices in the form of art media.
  • Creates opportunity to engage with others in non-threatening way
    Art can serve as a shared space between two people. Art can help those with mood concerns by engaging them with others in an indirect manner and may feel less intrusive than other forms of therapeutic engagement.
  • Facilitates self-reflection: learning about unknown strengths, building upon existing strengths
    Many individuals find that they are more capable in creative expression than they once believed, and may even discover new abilities or talents they were previously unaware they had.
  • Enhances communication: can express visually in pictures what may be challenging or frustrating to express with words
    Some experiences are difficult to communicate with verbal language. By expressing feelings, events, challenges, and triumphs through art, individuals can more easily express what is occurring within and around them. Art can be a non-verbal vehicle for communication and connection to others, as well as a catalyst for verbal communication and expression.
  • Increases social support through shared art experiences
    By participating in a group art experience, or even simply sharing art with others such as parents, caregivers, siblings, friends, colleagues, etc., individuals can build up their social supports. During times of stress or depression, these social supports can assist in resiliency and help the individual to manage symptoms more adaptively.
  • Encourages healthy habits such as regular self-care and self-awareness
    Developing regular engagement with visual art-making can serve as a powerful tool in becoming self-aware and in knowing when self-care techniques are important to use.