Art Therapy

Art for Wellness and Healing

The author, Tanner Christensen, wrote that creativity is a cup of jellybeans. He explained that if a clear cup were full of jellybeans, you would only be able to see the colors around the perimeter. The jellybeans in the center are hidden from view.

Every day new thoughts and ideas fill our brains, in the form of our senses reacting to our experiences. To be creative is to ask what color of “jelly beans” have been tucked away in the center of our minds.

Back in front of our imaginary cup, you have to shake it up in order to move all the beans around and see what’s inside. The brain, too, needs to be mentally shaken in order to uncover what’s hidden away inside.

It’s through uncovering those hidden ideas, by shaking our thoughts, that new insights become available to us.

The insights that come to us as we are being creative are the keys to our personal growth. The attitudes you bring to art-making are the same attitudes you apply in your life. Creativity is the process that shakes the cup, allowing a new perspective to our problems. Art is one of many paths to wellness, and developing a creative outlet can help you discover and express you authentic self, manage difficult emotions, de-stress, and heal old traumas.

Frequently Asked Questions about Art Therapy


what is art therapy?

Art therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development and psychological theories and techniques with visual arts and the creative process to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions. Art therapists use art media, and often the verbal processing of produced imagery, to help people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

who benefits from art therapy?

Art therapy is action-oriented and experience-based. This means you’ll be doing more than talking during our session. In general, art therapists work with individuals, couples, families and groups in lots of different settings (including hospitals, schools, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, community mental health clinics, wellness centers, forensic institutions, crisis centers, senior communities, veteran’s clinics, juvenile facilities, correctional institutions and other community facilities). I work with adolescents and adults who are struggling with anxiety and the effects of unhealed trauma.

…but i can’t draw

This is not an art class. You won’t be judged, graded, or critiqued on your artwork. I’m not concerned about the accuracy or beauty of the work you make in session. My goal is to help you use the materials we have available to help you best express the idea or emotion you have in mind. Sometimes, we simply focus on color; sometimes, we use basic shapes to represent more complex forms. It’s about the process of art-making, not the product. (Also, I don’t enjoy drawing either).

what materials can i use?

I keep a variety of materials in stock: collage papers, magazines, various adhesives, watercolors, acrylic paints, finger paints, charcoal, crayons, chalk pastels, oil pastels, water-soluble oil pastels, sharpies, markers, colored pencils, air-dry clay, Sculpey clay, plaster, large mural paper, drawing and water-color papers, adult coloring books, stencils, various painting tools and brushes, different sized containers, and a variety of craft supplies. I want you to have what you need when you need it, and of course, I’m here to offer guidance, suggestions, prompts, and directives to get you started. Don’t know what any of this stuff is? that’s fine too. I’m here to guide you as you explore each new material.

Art Therapy Resources

The American Art Therapy Association

The Art Therapy Blog

The Art Therapy Alliance

International Expressive Arts Therapy Association

Art Therapy Credentials Board

Let’s Connect

Schedule your free 30 minute initial consultation.

Learn about my fees

Kara Ashley-Gilmore, LPCA

Phone: 828-785-4789