Helen Bzdel

Registered Social Worker, Certified Art Therapist
FNIHB Approved Mental Health Therapist
EAP provider for LifeWorks
Choice Theory/Reality Therapy Certified
Certified Zentangle Teacher
Certified Laughter Leader - Expert Level Practitioner

Art Therapy

Art Therapy

Art Therapy

About Art Therapy

Art therapy offers clients an opportunity to explore issues and concerns through a creative process that does not rely on words. Art therapy is particularly beneficial and effective for people of any age and for various populations. For those who have difficulty describing their feelings, experiences and thoughts, art therapy offers an alternative to explore issues and concerns through the creative process that does not rely on talking to be therapeutic. Sometimes it is very hard to talk about what is bothering us, but once we put those things into the art we can therapeutically explore them and begin to heal.

Children, in particular, can benefit from art therapy, since it is a playful way to deal with trauma they may have suffered.

"I am not an artist! I have trouble even drawing a straight line!"

You do not need to be an artist to participate in art therapy. Art therapy gives you a chance to explore and attend to your inner world through the process of making the art and the art itself. The process of creating is more important than the product. In order for art therapy to work for you, you just need to be open to using different art media and giving it a try.

Materials in the studio include art supplies such as paint, oil pastels, chalks, watercolour pencils, sketching pencils, clay, and various other items. Everything you make, from doodles/scribbles, to stick drawings, to paintings, to clay sculptures, will provide you with opportunities to discover personal insights and strengths that will help you on your healing journey.

You might still think or say that you are not able to do art because you do not know what to make or where to start. Too many people have had their artistic attempts belittled early in life and it can be scary to try again. Art therapy offers the opportunity to use your imagination and creatively express yourself from the heart (without censor or judgment), rather than from the head. How often have you stated that you think too much or can’t stop thinking about something? Art therapy helps you move out of your head and into your heart with your emotions/feelings.

The Role of the Art Therapist

There are many ways of doing art therapy, but the art therapist primarily acts as a guide and mentor. The therapist is available to help with the use of art materials if needed, as well as providing some direction if the client is having difficulty creating art spontaneously. The therapist follows the client’s lead and asks questions that allow the client to make their own interpretations. The art therapist is said to ‘hold the space’ which refers to making the therapy session safe for the client.

An art therapist typically asks questions that help the client explore the art and its symbols, going as deep as the client feels they can comfortably go. The client is in charge and can allow their creativity and imagination to run free.

Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual arts and the creative process with models of counselling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups and families to assess and treat:
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental/emotional problems
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse and other addictions
  • Family and relationship issues
  • Abuse and domestic violence
  • Social/emotional difficulties related to disability or illness
  • Personal trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief and loss
  • Physical, cognitive and neurological problems
  • Psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness


Vancouver Art Therapy Institute - Click here for more information

Canadian Art Therapy Association - Click here for more information

American Art Therapy Association - Click here for more information

Saskatoon art therapist David Baudemont and Saskatoon's Open Door Society provide weekly art therapy at Queen Elizabeth School in Saskatoon, SK for the children of a Syrian family. - Click here for more information

Elisa Iannacone is a cinematographer from London. This article shows how she helps empower rape survivors through powerful and beautiful photographs that give voice to their trauma and their spirit while doing art therapy in Toronto, ON. - Click here for more information

Spirituality & Health - Click here for more information

Refugee children in Greece are using art to share their life experiences. - Click here for more information

David Gussak has done a lot of work with incarcerated individuals and art therapy. This is just one of his many articles. - Click here for more information

Interested in a career in art therapy? Cathy Malchiodi explains details. She is from the United States so it is more focused on her country but much of the information is relevant. - Click here for more information

Helen shares her personal account of being an art therapy student then adding art therapy to her practice, as well as various information and resources. - Click here for more information

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