Healing through Art: How Art Therapy can Help with Grief

anxiety art activity depression grief and loss therapeutic art Jan 25, 2023

Grief is a natural and normal emotion that we all experience at different points in our lives. It can be an incredibly powerful and overwhelming emotion, making it difficult to navigate on our own. Art therapy is an invaluable tool for helping people cope with grief and improve their overall wellbeing. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of art therapy and how it can help with healing grief and improving emotional wellbeing.

Art therapy is an incredibly effective form of self-care and self-expression that uses painting, drawing, and other forms of creative expression to explore emotions, increase self-compassion, and gain insight. It is a form of therapy that can help us with our emotional well-being, particularly in times of grief, sadness, loss, and anxiety.

The purpose of art therapy is to use creative activities to express feelings and thoughts that are otherwise difficult to articulate. Through creative expression, people can begin to make sense of their emotions, discover new ways of coping with stress, and gain insight into their lives. Art therapy is not about creating a work of art; instead, it’s about exploring one’s emotions and expressing them through creativity.

At its core, art therapy is about self-discovery and self-love. It encourages us to slow down and take time for ourselves. Art therapists provide a safe space to express deep-seated emotions and difficult experiences. By engaging in the creative process, we can develop a better understanding of ourselves and become more compassionate toward ourselves. 

Art therapy can be incredibly powerful in helping people with their emotional well-being. It can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as provide a healing outlet for those who have experienced loss or trauma. With art therapy, people can gain insight into their feelings, find new ways of coping with difficult situations and learn to be more accepting of themselves.

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Drawing on Grief | Kate Sutton
250 Brief, Creative & Practical Art Therapy Techniques | Susan Buchalter
The Wild Edge of Sorrow | Francis Weller
How Art Heals | Andra F Stanton

How art therapy can help with grief

Grief can be a difficult emotion to process, but art therapy can be an effective way to help manage this experience. Art therapy provides an outlet for creativity and expression, allowing us to express our feelings in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Through art therapy, we can practise self-compassion as we explore our thoughts and emotions related to grief.

Art therapy can offer many benefits to those who are grieving. One of the primary benefits is the ability to create a safe space for self-expression and exploration of emotions. By engaging in activities such as drawing or painting, we can express our feelings without the fear of judgement or criticism from others. Additionally, art therapy helps us focus on our creativity and allows us to explore our grief in a non-threatening environment.

Another benefit of art therapy for those dealing with grief is that it can foster feelings of self-compassion. Self-compassion allows us to understand our feelings, develop patience and accept ourselves as we work through our grief. The creative process of art therapy can also help us understand and gain insight into our emotions related to our experienced trauma or loss.

Art therapy offers us an opportunity to focus on our well-being during this difficult time. By engaging in creative activities such as drawing, collage, sculpting or painting, we can take our minds off of the negative emotions associated with grief and focus on something positive instead. This can be beneficial in helping individuals cope with the grieving process and ultimately improve their overall well-being.


Treaty Education Alliance | Therapy Through Art for Anxiety


Can art therapy help with anxiety?

Art therapy is an effective approach for managing anxiety symptoms and allowing us to explore our feelings safely and creatively. Art therapy involves using various art materials, such as paints, crayons, markers, collages, clay, and natural and other materials, to express feelings and emotions. Through art therapy, we can learn to identify, express, and manage our anxious feelings. 

We can reduce anxious feelings by allowing ourselves to externalise our emotions onto paper, canvas, or simply the table in front of us. It can also be used to create an action plan for managing anxiety, such as identifying situations that trigger anxious feelings and then practising techniques to help cope with these situations. 

In addition, art therapy can be used to identify unhealthy thought patterns that contribute to anxiety. By expressing ourselves through art, we can become aware of any irrational thoughts or beliefs we may have about ourselves and the world around us. This can help to replace these negative thoughts with more positive ones. 

Art therapy can help with developing new coping skills and strategies for managing anxiety. By engaging in art activities and expressing our emotions we can learn to recognise and manage our anxiety in a much healthier way. 

Can art therapy help with depression?

Depression is a serious and sometimes debilitating condition that affects lots and lots of people around the world. It can be difficult to treat and often requires professional help. Art therapy is one of the treatments that can be very effective in helping people with depression. 

Through art-making, we can express our feelings and emotions safely. This can provide us with an outlet for our emotions, helping us to make sense of our depression and find relief. 

Art therapy is often used to help people with depression work through their feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. The act of creating art can be a form of self-expression, which allows us to express ourselves without feeling judged or criticised. Additionally, art therapy can provide us with tools for managing depression and coping with difficult situations. When we allow for creatively exploring our thoughts and feelings, art therapy can help us better understand the source of our depression and learn strategies for managing it. 

By engaging in art therapy, we can become more aware of our emotions and begin to understand why we are feeling certain ways. Through this increased self-awareness, we can start to identify triggers for depression and develop healthy ways of dealing with them. Art therapy also encourages us to think differently about our emotions and learn how to manage them positively.

Overall, art therapy can be an invaluable tool for those struggling with depression. By providing a safe space to explore emotions and find relief, art therapy can help us make sense of our moods and emotions and start on the road to recovery.

Storytelling with Collage | Roxanne Evans Stout
Daydream Journals | Tilly Rose
The Collage Workbook | Randel Plowman
The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery | Karen Michel


Therapeutic art ideas for working with grief

As we've seen, art therapy is an effective way to help deal with grief and loss. It can help us process our feelings and provide a creative outlet to express ourselves. Through art therapy, we can gain a sense of control, hope, and healing.

A great therapeutic art activity for working with grief is to create a memory collage. Start by gathering materials that have a special meaning, such as photos, mementos, pieces of fabric or memorabilia and meaningful quotes or phrases. The next step is to use the materials to create a unique collage that tells a story of the unique journey through grief. It is important to allow yourself the time needed for this project, as it may be difficult to complete in one sitting. You can create on a canvas, in a journal or a special box, or even use a shadow frame to hold your collage.

Another therapeutic art activity for working with grief is to create abstract paintings. This can be done by using a canvas, paint or gesso and non-traditional art materials such as feathers, beads, fabric scraps, etc. You can also use memorabilia and photos. Working without a plan or specific goal can allow you to express yourself freely and explore emotions without judgement.

You could also create something that symbolises the loss and serves as a reminder of healing. For example, you could draw a picture of a flower or write a poem about your experience of grief. This is an especially helpful exercise when looking back at past losses.

Through art therapy (and art-making itself), one can take an active approach towards healing and use creative expression to cope with grief. Allowing yourself time and space to process your emotions can lead to greater self-awareness and resilience.

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