Art As Therapy

Growing up, my father encouraged my siblings and me to write a diary to develop our interest in writing and creativity. I remember that instead of writing, I would end up sketching and scribbling. As a child I had realised that I could express myself better through my sketches than by using words. Art, be it painting or sketching, has always helped me to be more poised and focus better.

My interest in people and understanding human behavior, made me opt for Psychology as my major in college. Shortly after my Masters, I started working in NGOs on women’s health issues. After my marriage, I began teaching art to children and women while I travelled around the world with my husband and son. The vast experience from having lived in India, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Myanmar, has reinforced the belief that human emotion and behavior can be expressed and understood through creativity and colors. With this insight I started my journey as an artist and an art therapist.

Collage art (a non threatening ways of representing thoughts and feelings and awareness of the environment) 

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art as a form of communication. It isn’t dependent on spoken language. Therefore, it can be useful to people who may find it difficult to express their feelings in words. In art therapy, clients use paint, clay and other materials to explore and express themselves. The art materials that get chosen and the way feelings are expressed are important aspects of the creative process. Participants are encouraged to create art that expresses their inner world more than making something that is an expression of the outer world.

Art therapy was introduced by British artist Adrian Hill in 1942. While recovering from tuberculosis in a hospital set up, he discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting. He suggested an artist’s work to his fellow patients and that is how Art Therapy began. This work was documented in his book, “Art Versus Illness” in 1945. During the same time in the U.S, art therapy pioneers Margaret Nambung, an educator and the artist Edith Kramer pointed out the importance of creativity during psychoanalysis. The American Art Association was founded in 1969.

Self love ( choosing your most favorite objects and creating a art work)

Benefits of Art Therapy

  • You don’t have to be an artist to be a part of art therapy. In fact, “Drawing an ugly picture or destroying a picture is an important and valuable expression, therefore, the artwork does not have to be aesthetically pleasing or finished to be valuable”. 
  • It provides a non-judgmental atmosphere to express your feelings.
  • It is an effective gateway for non-verbal communication when clients are not able to express themselves in words.
  • It provides additional information to therapists.
Art therapy ( Art expression)

The tenets of art therapy involve humanism, creativity, reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self awareness, and personal growth. In Picasso’s words, “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”

Mandala Art( Mandala is a centering space for the soul and self) 

Madhoomita Mishra
Madhoomita Mishra

Madhumita Mishra is an Indian artist and Art Therapist. She has done her Masters in Psychology, Certificate Course in Visual Arts and the Art Therapy course from universities in India. Her first ever exhibition was in Addis Ababa and was highly appreciated by the local art community. She also exhibits her art in Welcome Hotel, Dwarka and has done group exhibitions like Prarambh and JAFA in the M.F. Hussain Art Gallery in New Delhi. She has been inspired by Raja Ravi Varma and Georgia O’Keeffe. Her interests are reading, travelling and she’s a local cuisine enthusiast. Currently she is conducting Art therapy sessions and teaching art online to children and adults. She lives in Yangon, Myanmar


Picture Credit : Madhoomita Mishra

7 thoughts on “Art As Therapy”

  1. This is such a great article about therapy and the great work you have been doing. Just loved the Mandala art and trust me the therapy is like a lifeline for us now. Thanks Madhoomita for bringing colours to our lives❤️

  2. I love the Art was so new to me and just because of you…n this Therapy..I know myself better and feel so good about it.
    You are really talented..keep up the great work.

  3. I totally loved reading the article. Specially because I have been wanting to sit with colours or pens and paper to draw my emotions out, but something stops me. That itself might mean that I might draw something not so pretty. May be.. may be not…
    but, now I would certainly try… as the article rightly said – Painting is another way to keep a diary…. journaling. 🙂

  4. Simply WOW…..
    For me colours are the most beautiful thing to play with, it brings back balance to life. Very well written piece.

  5. Fabulously written…..
    ART….well something I always wanted to dabble in but don’t know what would hold me back…maybe paucity of time( or was it just an excuse) or was it laziness or was it the lack of maturity in the paintings which would hold me back .Finally , one fine day, I did pick up the brush to paint away my thoughts with gay abandon and reading this inspiring article, my resolve to paint has strengthened…..thank you !!

  6. So glad someone wrote about art therapy with such clarity. Thanks to the author and team CnC for bringing this out for the readers.

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