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  • Writer's pictureAmélie

5 misconceptions about art therapy

You need to be an artist to do art therapy

A common misconception about art therapy is that you need to be good at art or artistically inclined to participate in a session. You don't actually need any specific art skills to be a client. Art therapy is about finding ways to express yourselves beyond words. It doesn't matter is the art created is pretty or ugly. What is more important is the emotions, stories and meanings it conveys.

Art therapy is only for kids

Something else I hear often when I say that I am an art therapist is "how great it must be for kids". Art therapy is for all ages, anyone can benefit from being creative. Art therapy is about getting curious about how we interpret our feelings, thoughts and situations we experience. Art therapy with children looks different than with adults. With children, most of the therapeutic work is through play and storytelling. Whereas with teens and adults, there is a lot more room for reflection and introspection.

Your art therapist will analyse your art

As the artist, you are the only one who truly knows what it means for you. As therapists, we are there to facilitate a discussion and reflection about the symbols and metaphors you create. Together, we uncover the meaning held in your art. Depending on your goals, your art therapist can also provide psychoeducation and share resources with you. They will not interpret the art for you. Our job is to ask the right questions, offer reflections based on what you share and hold space so you can do your therapeutic work.

What's the big deal, it's just crafting!

Art therapy is a branch of psychotherapy. It is something people, like myself, train as a masters level. To be eligible you need to have a certain amounts of credits in psychology and arts in your undergraduate studies. Once you are done your training as an art therapist (which includes courses, practicum placement and a thesis), you have to complete 1000 hours of direct supervised client hours to become registered. In other words, we take our work seriously.

Watching your art therapist create is therapeutic

Here is how a real conversation (with someone I won't name) went:

Someone: What do you do?

Me: I'm an art therapist

Someone: Oh so people come see you make art and they feel better?

Me: No, people come see me for a specific goal and they create art about that. Sometimes I suggest what to do, sometimes they pick; at the end we look at the art together and see how they can make sense of it/what do they see.

Have I missed anything? If I did, send me an email at

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