7 Art therapy Prompts

In this brief blog, we present to you various art therapy prompts that can be used both in sessions and out of sessions. 

We will also briefly touch upon what art therapy is and it’s impact on well-being. 

Art therapy Prompts

Here are a few art therapy prompts that can be used in therapy sessions with clients as well as out of sessions for daily self-care.

These prompts have been curated from Fellowship Hall:

  • Draw or paint your emotions. 
  • Choose colours that represent your stress and jab, scribble and paint your problems away.
  • Paint in response to music.
  • Make a mandala. 
  • Draw in the dark without judging what you’re drawing
  • Create a future self-portrait where you see yourself in the future.
  • Choose the people who matter most to you in life and create unique art for each. 
  • Draw a portrait of someone who changed your life.
  • Create an image that represents how you think others see you.
  • Draw a place where you feel safe. 
  • What worries you in your life? Cut out pictures from magazines to represent these worries.
  • Draw something that scares you. 

Art therapy activity prompts

Here are some art therapy activities that you can try out for yourself. 

Colouring books

Get yourself some colouring books and use them to colour when you feel stressed or anxious. 

Colouring can be a way to help you use colours to express yourself as well as help you focus and clear your mind of worries and anxieties that intrude your thoughts. 

The lighthouse

To make use of this activity, you will need the following materials:

  • Paper- colored or plain.
  • Pencils and pens- coloured.

Once you are settled, take a moment to reflect on a time in their lives where they felt lost, overwhelmed, and stuck. Remember that such experiences are normal and an experience that many people have. 

Now, take a moment to focus on this story where you have been out at sea on a clear day- on a boat- and as the day progressed, the weather has become stormy and the waves have become rough and high. 

You realise that you have lost your way and you are no longer sure how you can get back to shore. Just as you were struggling to find direction, envision a light in the distance and a lighthouse that is showing you the way towards the shore. 


Now, Bring yourself out of this meditative state and use the materials present to create an image of yourself at sea with the lighthouse in view.

Make it a point that you add words, values, personal strengths, support systems etc, in relation to the lighthouse which can act or depict the various things in your life that are a source of guidance and light during difficult times. 

Take a moment to reflect on the image that you have created and explore these guiding lights with an attitude of gratitude.

You can learn more about this activity here

Words to live by collage

The Words to Live By activity helps teens to identify and visualise the core values they hold on to through creative collage making. It requires materials like:

  • Old magazines, newspapers, picture books
  • Markers and colored pencils
  • Scissors and glue
  • Cardboard 

Take a moment to reflect on your core values or ask yourself what you feel strongly about. 

Once you have a good idea of your values, take a moment to reflect on these values by closing your eyes and focus on breathing. 

Allow you to find the words associated with these values along with the colour, images, shapes, and mood that represent these values. 

Next, when you are ready, begin selecting images, words, phrases, or colours from the magazines and newspapers. 

Use these materials to compile a collage that reflects your values and the words to live by. It can be any form but it has to reflect your values. 

You can find out more about this activity here

Colour your feelings

To make use of his activity, Start by asking the children to reflect on what makes them feel happy or what they are currently feeling. 

Next, ask them to create an outline of a heart and ask them to colour or fill the heart with various creative materials like glitter, paint, sequins etc. 

Finally, use the work they have done to discuss the emotions or the values they treasure by helping them develop a better understanding of their own emotions and the things that they find valuable. 

You can find out more about this activity here.

Make mandala art

You can make mandalas, create them, and colour them in as a way to meditate and get your mind off things that stress you out. 

Here is a link for you to follow to help yourself learn how to make mandala art. 

Paint 

You can get yourself a few paint supplies, some brushes, and some canvas. Use these materials and the colours to express the way you feel when you are either happy, sad, anxious etc. 

Craft a peaceful collage

Make a collage of various things that make you feel safe; it can be people, views, places, values etc that can help you feel calmer and remind you that you are safe.

This will help you be reminded and be mindful about the positive things in your life including values and attitudes that help you adapt better and develop resilience. 

Art therapy worksheets

If you are having trouble following prompts, you can make use of worksheets.

Art therapy Worksheets have been designed to enable individuals to express their emotions, their feelings, as well as to develop self awareness. 

These worksheets invites individuals to engage in various art activities that can help them relax, deal with stress, as well as get family with difficult emotions in the process of coping with them.

Mandala worksheet

The worksheet invites individuals to engage with the worksheet, colour them in, and in the process relax and have a little fun. 

This worksheet helps individuals take a break from stress and the in and outs of daily life, immerse themselves in a meditative state and relax. 

You can use this worksheet to colour them in, in a peaceful environment. 

You can access this worksheet here

Where do I feel? Worksheet

This worksheet helps individuals, particularly children, recognise what emotions are, how they feel in the moment, and how it affects their bodies by opening up a conversation around the topic with the help of the sheet. 

To use this worksheet, choose a colour to represent an emotion, and then colour in the part of the body where you experience it. 

Take a moment to reflect on how the sensation feels, how long it stays, and how your body reacts in that moment so as to understand and become more familiar with it. 

You can access this worksheet here

What is Art Therapy?

According to the American Art Therapy Association (2013) Art therapy is, 

“…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.”

Thus, it can be understood as a field of therapy that combines both art and psychotherapy to help develop self awareness, explore emotions, and address unresolved issues through a creative process, 

Art therapy is also used to develop social skills and raise self-confidence in young children and seeks to help individuals- even young ones- overcome emotional challenges and also develop a higher level of well-being. 

How does art impact wellbeing?

There have been plenty of studies and reviews that have been conducted regarding the use and efficacy of art and art therapy for the intervention of mental disorders as well as for improving mental health and resilience. 

In a review that explored “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health”, researchers found that art-based interventions were effective in alleviating and reducing negative psychological and physiological symptoms. 

This review focuses on creative and expressive art activities strictly focused on adult participants in North America and Europe. These activities included: music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing. 

A 2021 review explored the effect of art therapy on anxiety, depression, and quality of life in individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer and are being treated for it. 

The review of literature was conducted on studies that have been published between September 2009 up to September 2019 related to cancer patients and a total of 731 publications were assessed.

The researchers concluded that art therapy could have some positive impact in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression in adult cancer patients as well as improve their quality of life. However, the researchers stressed that more research is required in this regard. 

Although much research points to an affirmative position that art therapy or art interventions are very effective in treatment and reducing psychological symptoms of distress and illnesses, there is much research to be done in terms of how these interventions improve health overall and to what extent. 

Conclusion

In this brief blog, we present to you various art therapy prompts that can be used both in sessions and out of sessions. 

We have also briefly touched upon what art therapy is and it’s impact on well-being. 

FAQ related to Art therapy prompts

What should I draw for therapy?

The subject matter on what you create for therapy depends on what the prompt was when you have a session with your therapist. It can range from expressing emotions, making meaning, creating collages, or painting a still from an event that affected you greatly. 

Clearing up what is the objective of a certain piece with your therapist can help you define what you should draw for therapy.

Can I do art therapy on my own?

It is possible for one to do art therapy at home however, having a therapist to guide and facilitate you as you process your emotions and thoughts can be more effective than doing it on your own. 

What are the disadvantages of art therapy?

One of the major concerns about art therapy is the threat of an ineffective therapist who does not help to resolve emotions that have been activated in therapy leading to more distress. 

References

Mead.E. 15 Art Therapy Activities, Exercises & Ideas for Children and Adults Positive psychology. 26th october, 2021. Retrieved on 1st March 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/art-therapy/

Stuckey HL, Nobel J. The connection between art, healing, and public health: a review of current literature. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(2):254-263. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.156497

Bosman, J.T., Bood, Z.M., Scherer-Rath, M. et al. The effects of art therapy on anxiety, depression, and quality of life in adults with cancer: a systematic literature review. Support Care Cancer 29, 2289–2298 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-020-05869-0

About Mental Health. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. 28th June, 2021. Retrieved on 1st March 2022.  . https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm

Mental health: strengthening our response. WHO. 30th March 2018. Retrieved on1st March 2022. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response

100 Art Therapy Exercises to Make Your Mind, Body and Spirit Sing. Fellowship Hall retrieved on 1st March 2022. https://www.fellowshiphall.com/2018/11/100-art-therapy-exercises-to-make-your-mind-body-and-spirit-sing/

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