Art Psychotherapy vs. Art Activity

I find that many people ask the important question of what is the difference between art therapy and art activity.

I would like to highlight the benefits of both but also touch upon what makes them different. Both art therapy and art activity require different skills in their overall orientation and assumption.

Children’s charity Place2Be gives an excellent description by Bea Borgi in the difference between theses models of therapy and activity:

Art activities have primary goal of creating artwork within a fun and leaning environment. The facilitator who is training or experiencing art making may influence the creation of the artwork or give advice.  The …(individual)… may be expected to make use of a set of skills that can be taught, practised, evaluated or judged aesthetically. The artwork produced may be exhibited or assessed.

Art therapy’s primary goal is the intentional use of arts for psychological change as a form of therapy within a therapeutic context. The artwork produced in art therapy is not intended as a product in its self. Drawing an ‘ugly’ picture or destroying a picture is in art therapy an important and valuable expression. Therefore the artwork does not have to be aesthetically pleasing or finished to be valuable.

In art therapy the therapist acts as a facilitator a guide and a witness to help the…(individual)…to understand feelings and needs…. Anyone can potentially embark on a creative process and a creative process does not have to result in an aesthetic or finished product. One can’t ‘teach’ creativity in the sense of ‘teaching’ maths, science or humanities classes, but one can assist and guide people to get in touch with their inherent creativity.

More detailed information on this can be seen on this link: