Art Therapy

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one out of five Canadians suffers from a mental illness, something commonly triggered by stress. Going to a mental health professional to receive prescribed drugs requires an abundance of money, and money shortage is a common, major factor in stress. Drugs are dangerous, even when prescribed. They typically have negative side effects that damage the physiological make up of the body. Art Therapy is a cheap and safe alternative to recover or cope from mental illnesses. It does not damage the body’s physiological make up at all because no foreign substances are being consumed. Art Therapy, like art itself, is diverse. This makes it an approachable solution to a wide variety of people. It can also be done alone or with others, allowing some people to get some peace and quiet, and some to socialize at the same time. Art Therapy is the best approach to recovering or coping with mental illnesses.

one point, two point, and three point perspective mashed into one  style. (My personal style)
one point, two point, and three point perspective mashed into one style. (My personal style)

Prescribed medication is problematic. Not only financially, but also physically. For example, Olanzapine, among other antipsychotics, lead to diabetes. According to the Canadian Association of Mental Health, about 10% of the population aged over eighteen will have depression. That’s about 2.5 million Canadians. This is information based on psychologists and psychiatrists who agree to share their client statistics to the Canadian Association of Mental Health. This means this information is only based on the people who go to therapy. Therefore many assume the percentage of the population with depression is even greater than only 10%. Many people simply cannot afford therapy, never mind medication. Medication for depression ranges between thirty dollars and two hundred dollars per month. That means people spend between $360 and $2400 for depression, not including the medications from other mental illnesses they may have. Fluoxetine, along with other Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI), slow down the reproduction of brain cells. This is why people tend stay away from medication, even if they can afford it. The seven categories of psychotherapeutic drugs’ negative side effects include; physical, referring to headaches and pains; somatic, which are more severe physical effects like jaundice; behavioural toxicity, like drug addiction and psycho-motor retardation; compliance issues, meaning inconsistently adhering to the drug; restriction of brain capacity, much like Fluoxetine; interfering with therapy, making the patient assume taking drugs is in replacement of therapy; and reducing the efficiency of therapy, due to the patient assuming they no longer require the help of a therapist when consuming drugs. With Art Therapy, these concerns would not be prevalent or at least as prevalent. Since Art Therapy does not include the consumption of chemicals, it does not cause any physical damage, making the first two categories of negative side effects void. Making art can become a hobby, but not an addiction like drugs can, voiding the third category as well. Considering art requires brain usage, it improves the brain rather than deteriorate it, proving the opposite of the fifth category. Since Art Therapy is a form of therapy, the sixth and seventh categories are also void. This leaves the only concern to be of the fourth category, compliance issues, something that will be prevalent in any form of therapy. From a physical and financial perspective, Art Therapy is much better than using prescription drugs.

Even when patients try to find alternatives to drugs, they often find themselves confined to one mindset, assuming that there is only one way to recovery. People often assume Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the only way to recover from any mental issues they may have. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is effective, but only for those who are linguistic and enjoy writing things down. Many other therapeutic treatments follow this style where the ability to express their thoughts on paper using words is a key component. Art Therapy, however, breaks out of the pack. Art Therapy does not require a background in linguistics and is not confined to words on a page. Whereas Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is direct and answers “when”, “why”, and “how”, Art Therapy is about getting the answers out without having to bluntly answer specific questions. For example, a person in Art Therapy who is linguistic can be asked ‘how do you feel’ and respond by telling a short story of a little girl walking through a field and suddenly find herself in a dingy, abandoned hospital hallway that she now calls home. If that person is in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, they would be expected to bluntly say ‘lost, broken, and hopelessly trapped in trauma’. Art Therapy, like art itself, is quite diverse. It consists of theatrical outlets, dance, music, and visual art. In theatrical therapy, improvisation games give the therapist what kind of a person their client is like. It is beneficial to find underlying issues, hidden within the subconscious. Theatrical therapy can also be used for recovery. It can be a way to vent or make use of the “fake it until you make it” theory, making them act happy until they begin to feel slightly better. Dance therapy would be the same way. Freestyle helps therapists analyze the subconscious and could be used as a way to vent or tell a story. Specific styles could be recommended to shape the client’s mind. Musical therapy can be broken down into listening, creating, and performing. Certain genres of music affect various people differently. It can be used as an assessment tool or a way of coping. Creation is where people can express any emotions and tell their stories. Performing can be a wonderful stress reliever. Performing is when people can fully express themselves and see the faces of those taking a part of the story within the music. Visual art is another diverse subcategory. From sculpting to sketching, people get to work with different mediums. Once again, assessments of the subconscious can be made from what people create. Creating specific shapes and using a specific colour can tell a lot, especially from the use of movement in the artwork. The diversity Art Therapy offers allows many to benefit mentally as well as continue or pick up a new hobby. It may even reveal a hidden talent the client did not know about. This makes Art Therapy a spectacular and inspirational form of therapy that can aide virtually anyone.

People typically enjoy at least one form of art whether it is alone or with a group of people. This makes this form of therapy accessible to both introverts and extroverts. There are many therapists that conduct one on one Art Therapy that focus on self realization, something that would appeal to introverts. They would go in a small room with the mediums accessible for the client. They would start with something along the lines of improvisation so that the therapist can get to know the client better. The therapist would analyze how the client acts and thinks based on what they create. Then, they can move on to answering questions indirectly, understanding how the client feels with each question. They might be asked to draw or scribble while answering questions. For extroverts, a group Art Therapy session would be the most beneficial. After getting to know the therapist and each other a bit, the therapist would tell the group to think of a specific topic and they would create something based off of their emotions and ideas. The clients can communicate with one another and feel better by sharing their work with others. It can lead to a gain in confidence as well as a way to vent out memories and emotions. The group therapy might be good once in a while for introverts because they might be suffering from Cabin Fever, depression and other issues caused by lack of quality human interaction and lack of leaving a specific area. Meeting new people and making new friends is a great way to diminish this mental illness. Since Art Therapy is so broad, they can manage their thoughts and emotions using one technique until it fails to work, and then move on to try a different form of art without having to switch therapists and have physical repercussions like prescribed medications can. Art Therapy can be shaped around to match the client so well, anyone can go to Art Therapy for any purpose. It is perfect for anyone attempting to cope or recover from any trauma or mental issues they have.          Art Therapy is the best approach to mental recovery, allowing for further self awareness. It is suitable for those who like to spend time with others one on one, or even within a large group of people. It can range from theatre, to music, to dancing, to visual arts. Art Therapy therefore can match the needs of many different people with the common goal of recovery. It is not a burden to the wallet and also does not damage the body physically. Art Therapy has no negative side effects so there is no reason to be concerned about how this type of therapy will deteriorate the brain or mental state. This is a wonderful way to become self aware about any issues underlying within the subconscious and prevent outbursts and mental breakdowns. It is a beneficial technique to maintain mental health without compromising physiological health factors.


H.E. Lehmann. (1979). “Negative Aspects of Psychotherapeutic Drug Treatment”. PubMed. Retrieved from

John Walker and John Eastwood. (September 2013). “Cost of Medication”. Informed Choices. Retrieved from

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