Art therapy techniques and applications (+PDF)

The current blogspot will be based on art therapy techniques and applications. It will enlist and discuss the various techniques used in art therapy in detail with examples and would also elaborate on the various applications of art therapy techniques.

What are art therapy techniques?

Art therapy techniques are the various therapeutic techniques administered by a trained therapist to facilitate self expression through nonverbal means using the art medium, foster inner peace, resolve conflicts, improve their perspective on life and modify their maladaptive behaviors.

Following is a list of art therapy techniques utilized in counseling and therapy:

  • Mandala activities
  • Drawing blindly
  • Exploring sensory awareness
  • Life spiral
  • Doodling in a mandala
  • Draw as you listen
  • Draw your peace
  • Draw your center
  • Drawing an imagery
  • Draw your current moment
  • Draw your resting mind
  • Breath, imagine and draw love
  • Draw a picture of different sides of yourself
  • Write a story about your life
  • Writing a story about traumatic experience
  • Drawing your trauma
  • Writing a letter to God
  • Making a memory jar
  • Motivation quotes collage

Mandala activities

Mandalas are large circles that are colored from inside to outwards. They may contain many different varieties of geometric shapes. Mandalas are colored to form a specific shape or pattern.

An individual can draw as many mandalas as they want and color it as per their will. 

Mandalas are a great therapeutic intervention to provide structure to the client’s emotion and enable them to express themselves through art.

A therapist facilitates mandala activity technique through the following questions:

  • What title would you like to give to this mandala?
  • Where in this mandala design would you position yourself?
  • How would you relate this mandala and your position in this mandala to your real life experiences?

Mandalas are usually applied as an art therapy technique to create an awareness regarding the self in the individual. 

Drawing blindly

The drawing blindly technique of art therapy is based on drawing with blindfolded eyes. The client can draw any type of design which can be something tootal abstract or something closest to nature and reality. 

The therapist then facilitates to interpret the meaning of the drawing of the client through the following questions:

  • How did you feel while drawing?
  • What can be related to this drawing from your real life?

Exploring sensory awareness

Exploring sensory awareness through art therapy techniques is another great experience. The therapist guides the client to take a deep breath and focus on their 5 senses. They are  then instructed to draw whatever they can smell, whatever they can hear, whatever they can touch, whatever they can see and whatever they can taste in their mouth. 

The counselor then facilitates the client’s experience with questions :

  • How was your experience while doing the activity?
  • Which of the senses did you feel most strong?
  • Which of the five senses do you think help you to relax and get distracted from stress?

Life spiral

The therapist tells the client to imagine a snail. The client is then instructed to draw a spontaneous and instant image of a snail-like spiral. The client may start drawing the spiral from inside out or from outside towards inside up to their own will.

The art therapist then interprets the client’s experiences while doing the activity with the following questions:

  • What in life can you relate to this spiral?
  • How did you feel while drawing this spiral?
  • Did you start drawing it from the middle point towards the outer point or from the outer point towards inside?
  • In any particular phase in life, did you ever feel life is making you spiral?

Doodling in a mandala

The doodling within a mandala is an exercise that requires the therapist to provide the client with an outline of a small circle. The client doodles within the mandala outline with the help of colours and lines. Doodling enables the clients to interconnect the shapes and lines. 

The doodling in a mandala technique enables a client to let their thoughts roll within the mandala without worrying about the final result of the drawing.

The therapist then facilitates the client to express their emotions through the following questions:

  • How did you feel while doodling within the mandala freely ?
  • What were your thoughts that were prominent in your mind while doing this exercise?
  • What in life can you relate to this activity?
  • Have you ever felt any of your thoughts doodle in your brain like this, to and fro?

Draw as you listen

Draw as you listen activity is also known as feel the beat and draw. In this art therapy technique, the client is instructed to close eyes and concentrate on whatever they can hear in the environment. The therapist can arrange for a number of auditory stimuli. The clients close their eyes and focus on the music beats, songs and noises in their surroundings.

They then simultaneously draw whatever they have been listening to on a piece of a paper. Their drawings vary as per the beat of the song and the audio.

The therapist facilitates the client’s interpretation of the drawing through following questions:

  • What were your prominent feelings listening to the music?
  • How will you relate your drawing to the music you listened to?
  • How do you think music can enable you to listen well?

Draw your peace

The draw your peace art therapy technique is used with clients to know what is the definition of peace and what serenity means to them. The therapist instructs the client to draw peaceful moment.

After the client has finished, the therapist interprets the drawing through following questions:

  • When was the last time you felt the same as drawing?
  • How far do you think your current life is from being peaceful?
  • What peace feels to you like?
  • What color represents peace to you?

Draw your center

The draw your center activity is conducted in a therapy session to make the client focus on their physical and spiritual center. 

The client thinks of their physical and spiritual focus points in life. They then draw each one of them. The client may use any symbol to represent themselves and use as many colors as they want.

The therapist uses following questions:

  • How do you relate the drawing to your focus of attention?
  • What do you like your focus to be concentrated on?
  • What was the last time you felt centered?

Drawing an imagery

The drawing and imagery art technique is used for deep breathing and relaxation. The therapist tells the client that he has to close his eyes and imagine some time in life that they felt most relaxed and peaceful.

The client can draw any symbol or a whole scenery to represent their mind at peace.

The client is facilitated by the therapist and the feelings of the client are explored through the following questions:

  • How does the drawing explain your mind at peace?
  • When was the last time in life you felt closest to this drawing?

Draw your current moment

The client is instructed to draw their current moment. They are thus focused on the here and now. They draw their current moment by analysing their current life issues.

The client may draw their current moment by focusing on their present life and using various symbols that define their current life.

The client’s drawing in finally interpreted by the therapist through following questions:

  • How can you relate your current life to this drawing?
  • What in this drawing can be changed to feel more calm in life?

Breath, imagine and draw love

The breathe imagine and draw love exercise in art therapy is conducted to make a client more familiar to the feelings of romance and love. 

The client imagines and draws what love means to them.

The therapist then draws meaning out of the client’s drawings by the following questions:

  • How can you relate love to your drawing?
  • What was the point in life when you felt most romantic in life?
  • Who makes you most loved in life?

Draw a picture of different sides of yourself

The therapist draws an insight about the different sides of a person in various social settings. The therapist then draws himself as various appearing in various social settings. He might draw himself while at a party, in a gathering with family, in the office, in the bedroom and while sitting with parents.

The therapist then inter[rets the client’s drawing through following questions:

  • Which of these sides of yourself do you like the most?
  • Which of these sides of yourself is most difficult to handle?
  • Which of these sides of yourself do you feel most relaxed at?

Write a story about your life

Writing a story about yourself art therapy techniques is used with the clients to know about the value they associate to themselves. The clients write a story of themselves while mentioning the emotionally significant life events and the result of those life events on the client’s life.

Reading the story, the therapist is in a better position to analyze the client’s self image and the unresolved conflicts associated with the clients life.

The therapist may ask the client the following questions to ease their unpleasant feelings after story writing:

  • How do you feel after writing a story about your life?
  • What are the events that you would like to subtract from your life to make it more positive for yourself?
  • What do you think are your strengths that can make this story an altogether a different experience for you and change its current nature to a more positive one?

Writing a story about traumatic experience

Explaining the traumatic event by writing an essay or a story about it is utilized by therapists with clients who have witnessed or experienced any traumatic events. 

The clients are better able to relate to their traumatic events, the inner build of feelings related to the traumatic events and any inner conflicts that have not been resolved related to the event.

The therapist reads through the client’s story and asks questions to further probe any unpleasant feelings. He might use any of the following questions:

  • How do you think life changed after the event?
  • How would life have been different without this event occurring in your life?

Drawing your trauma 

This art therapy intervention is used with children and adults who have survived any traumatic experiences in the form of a natural disaster or death of a loved one. 

The client is instructed to draw their traumatic experience and color it with their underlying pleasant and unpleasant feelings that they have never spoken about with anyone.

It enables the trauma survivors to connect with their inner self and accept their unpleasant experiences in life through facilitation by an art therapist using art therapy techniques to draw out your trauma.

Survivors of physical or emotional abuse, rape cases, murder or accident witnesses are all equally able to benefit from this technique in therapy.

Writing a letter to God

Writing a letter to god exercise is usually conducted with the clients in art therapy to provide closure to any unfinished businesses in life. This technique aims at forgiving oneself and others for any unpleasant life events. 

Writing a letter to god technique is used for healing of the self. The therapist asks the clients about their feelings after they are done writing a letter to God.

Making a memory jar

Making a memory jar exercise is implemented in sessions with clients to provide them with an opportunity to collect all the materials that make them remember about a positive moment in life in a jar. The client can use any pictures or any items that are closely relatable to the pleasurable memory.

At times of distress, the same memory jar can serve the client to get distracted from the source of stress and feel relaxed by recalling all the pleasurable memories.

Motivation quotes collage

The motivation quotes collage is of use to specifically the adolescents and the teenage groups.

This art therapy technique calls for collecting all the different quotes that motivate an individual and making a collage to be placed in a room.

This technique serves best its purpose with client’s of substance use, suicidal ideation and suicide.

What is the application of various art therapy techniques?

Art therapy techniques are applied across various settings by counselors and therapists. They are successfully utilized by :

  • School counselors
  • Organizational psychologists
  • Educational counselors
  • Adolescent counselors
  • Geriatric counselors
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Employee assistance counselors
  • Motivation speakers
  • Trainers
  • Forensic counselors
  • Psychology teachers
  • Clinical counselors

The art therapy techniques are applied with the following underlying purpose:

  • Art therapy techniques related to mindfulness
  • Art therapy techniques related to self awareness
  • Art therapy techniques related to cognitive processes
  • Art therapy techniques related to self esteem
  • Art therapy techniques related to social life
  • Art therapy techniques related to problem solving and coping
  • Art therapy related to anxiety and stress reduction
  • Art therapy techniques related to emotional regulation

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In the present blogspot we discussed the various art therapy techniques and the application of art therapy techniques across various spheres in life for a variety of purposes. We learned through this article that art therapy is an amalgamation of various techniques based on creativity and experiential activities that are centered around the goals mutually agreed upon by the counselor and the client. The art therapist utilizes his knowledge and skills of art therapy with a  vast variety of clients across various settings that includes schools, training sessions, counseling sessions, therapy sessions, focused group sessions and psychometric assessments and intervention programs for any specialized population.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Art therapy techniques and applications

What are art therapy techniques?

The art therapy techniques are creative interventions with an underlying aim of fostering subjective well-being and meeting the therapy goals  through provision of opportunities for self expression.

What are the 3 uses of art therapy?

The 3 uses of art therapy are:

Enhancing positive perspective in life
Promoting self expression
Catharsis of underlying inner conflicts and unpleasant emotions

What are the applications of art therapy techniques?

The applications of art therapy techniques  include:

Art therapy techniques help individuals from all age groups across all life spheres to have a better connection with their inner self.
Art therapy techniques aid in providing opportunity for expression of the underlying unpleasant and unaddressed emotions, thoughts and feelings.
Art therapy techniques significantly decrease negative emotions including stress, anxiety and fear among children and adults.
Art therapy techniques provide trauma survivors with the opportunity to discover their suppressed emotions and feelings.
Art therapy techniques provide substance use addicts with opportunities to explore the inner conflicts.
Art therapy techniques provide closure to unfinished businesses in life.


Art Therapy Activities PDF (5)

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!