Art therapy is based on the idea that the creative process heals. It uses the therapeutic approach of making art guided by a professional art therapist for people who experience illness, trauma or challenges in living.

No experience or special artistic talent is needed to participate.

Art therapists are professionals trained in the visual arts (drawing, painting, sculpture and other art forms) and psychological theories and counseling. They are knowledgeable about the creative process and the healing potential of creating art to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.

Benefits of Art Therapy

Benefits reported by patients who participate in art therapy services during cancer treatment include:

  • Decreased anxiety
  • Enhanced ability to cope with stress
  • Feeling a sense of well-being
  • Decreased focus on pain
  • Feeling energized
  • Experiencing a sense of being in control
  • Feeling inspired

The creative process involved in artistic self-expression offers individuals an opportunity to:

  • Explore life changes and expectations
  • Engage in problem solving
  • Resolve personal conflicts
  • Communicate nonverbally
  • Develop interpersonal skills
  • Express feelings
  • Gain perspective
  • Address fears
  • Enhance creativity

What to Expect During an Art Therapy Session

Even if making art does not come naturally, patients can feel comfortable and relaxed when working with an art therapist. You don't need artistic talent to participate — making art therapy appropriate for all patients. Art making can quiet the mind and relax the body. The nonverbal aspect of the treatment can be especially useful for individuals whose speech has been impaired. Examples of interventions used in an art therapy session include:

  • Illustrating a current experience using an image or symbol and exploring its meaning
  • Creating a magazine photo collage
  • Mindfulness practice using watercolor painting while listening to music

Contact us

We welcome anyone who has been touched by cancer to enjoy the life-affirming experience of making art. Please contact our art therapist via the Jeffrey C. Siegel Quality of Life Center at 414-805-0572.

Helpful Resources

  • American Art Therapy Association: arttherapy.org
  • American Brain Tumor Association: abta.org — Search on "art therapy."
  • American Cancer Society: cancer.org — Search on "art therapy."
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