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How Effective Is Art Therapy?

How Effective Is Art Therapy? 

How Effective Is Art Therapy?British artist, Adrian Hill, coined the term ‘art therapy’ in 1942 after discovering the healthful benefits of drawing and painting while recovering from tuberculosis. Two pioneers of art therapy, Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer used art therapy to help clients access their inner thoughts, feelings, and experiences through creative expression. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Art therapists are trained mental health clinicians that are educated in human development, clinical practice, psychological theories, and fine art. Art therapy sessions can be conducted in an individual or group setting. Art therapy can be used on its own or in conjunction with other therapeutic treatment modalities. Art therapy encourages teenagers to explore self-expression, emotions, and challenges through various art media rather than relying on verbal articulation. Art therapy is currently recognized as an effective psychotherapeutic approach that is regularly used by mental health clinicians to treat variety of mental health ailments, spanning across all ages.


Art therapy is a therapeutic technique that is rooted in the notion that creativity and creative expression can foster healing and promote mental well-being. Findings from a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, indicate that less than an hour of creative activity can reduce stress and have a positive effect on one’s mental health, regardless of one’s artistic experience or talent. There are many benefits to art therapy, such as: 

  • Promotes self-expression and self-discovery
  • Can act as a cathartic release 
  • The process encourages the development of healthy coping strategies
  • Research has found art therapy reduces stress and anxiety in children with asthma
  • Improves self-esteem and increases resilience
  • Fosters self-reliance, personal independence, and self-sufficiency
  • Data suggests art therapy improves the ability to deal with pain and other frightening symptoms in children with cancer
  • It enables teens to verbally and nonverbally communicate emotions that may otherwise be abandoned

Art therapy can be highly effective for some teens, especially those that are artistically inclined and/ or those that may be uncomfortable with their ability to accurately articulate their emotions. However, art therapy may not be effective for some, as every teenager is unique and different treatment modalities will resonate distinctly with each teen.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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