Art Therapy: Healing Power and Assessment Methods

There is enough evidence to support the fact that creativity and healing in most of the cases come from a single place in the human anatomy, which is basically what art therapy is premised on. It is this fact that art therapy has found acceptance in the medical field, even being used to supplement other medical procedures and therapies, although at arms length. The question that has however occupied the minds of laymen and experts alike is whether art therapy is a useful and effective tool that can be used to assess a person, and especially a child, past status on abuse, or other mental handicaps. Therefore through proper analytic procedures, art therapists have been able to find the power behind healing ability of art therapy, in the belief that creativity and healing all come and emanate from the human anatomy. Most specifically, most if not all art therapists believe in the inherent and absolute healing power of the rather creative process of art making.

This process to many is viewed as being therapeutic because it always provides a chance for a people to fully express themselves spontaneously, authentically and imaginatively, a wonderful experience that can actually lead to self – fulfillment over time hence health enhancing and growth producing (Malchiod). Hence the fundamental and core reason of this research are to answer the question that has embedded the minds of so many experts as to whether art therapy is useful in the medical field. To answer this question, am going to first explore the importance of art therapy, how it is administered and its relevant examples to fully substantiate my research that really art therapy is indeed a useful tool. The thought that art is only done in class through reading and drawing and not applied it the real world situation should be demonized, and allow a self-re-evaluation where art as a whole is fully respected and allowed in other fields even where a drawing is not necessary.


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Art therapy is indeed a very important tool in the medicine world and so very fundamental. The tools used in art therapy such as paints and chalks might sound shoddy but they do great in relaxing the minds of people. The fundamental aim and reason of art therapy are to relax and exerted brain and psychology, in order to refresh it and make it more receptive. It, therefore, sustains health and emotional wellbeing of a person ( Art therapy is very useful especially when it comes to the growth of young children. Apart from improving their emotional and mental health, it also helps in increasing the cognitive and mental awareness of people, hence a person may discover more about himself after an art therapy. Art therapy is a very important tool because it helps in bringing out the feelings and emotions of young children, especially through drawing.

As a child who does not to how to talk draws or paints an image, it speaks volumes of what is happening in the mind of the child, as the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words. Hence parents are able to understand and attend to their children is accordance to how they understand it.During rigorous and a lot of learning especially with high school students, art therapy becomes an important tool because it helps them improve their learning skills to a great extent because mostly they are not able to reveal the emotional and mental upheavals. Art therapy is still a very important tool because it is useful for people who have mental tensions, are mentally ill and helps in healing of mental conditions such as the Bipolar. Lastly but not least, art therapy helps to improve the mental and learning capability of slow learners.


Just like any other psychotherapeutic modality, art therapy has its own immense importance and significance of the human nature. The fundamental purpose of art therapy is to improve or even maintain the mental health and the emotional well-being of a particular individual. The utilization and use of drawings in general art perform just well when it comes to therapeutic art.Professionals and art therapists are trained to concisely and precisely recognize the non-verbal symbols, images, and metaphors that are actually communicated within the creative process (Malchiodi)


When an art therapist is administering, the sole concentration is to focus on the inner soul and experience the feelings of the person being assessed. These professionals have been trained to recognize the non-verbal communication of human beings, and hence they observe with keen interests at the inner experiences and feelings of the person being assessed. Various art and learning skills are the main components in art therapy, hence images and pictures that emanate from the inside of a person or rather from the inner soul are developed and expressed, rather those images that that particular person might see in the outside world might not really be put into consideration because they have no use in expressing or communicating the inner feelings of a person. Therefore in art therapy, the inner focus and epicenter of images, thoughts, ideas and feelings are not only of great but also high value to the therapeutic experience.

What also makes art therapy a very important tool in the assessment of individuals is the fact that it has proper and well-organized assessments methods which have been proved to be proper with time. Am therefore going to discuss some of these assessment models to actually stand and support for art therapy.


Art therapists always put in place use of art-based assessments to evaluate and analyze emotional, cognitive and rather developmental conditions to an extent. There are many assessment models in art therapy particularly used by professional art therapists to administer their duty(Betts).The goodness and advantage of this assessments are that most of them, if not all, are prescribed on simple directions which involve the use of standardized art materials. Discussed below are therefore examples of these art therapy model assessment methods:


In the year 1906, a German psychotherapist by the name Fritz Mohr created a drawing assessment for psychology (Malchiodi). More so in the year 1926, a researcher by the name Florence Goodenough also came up with a drawing test which was intended to measure the level of intelligence in children. This complete and comprehensive but complex model of assessment in art therapy is also called the “Draw – A – Man – Test. (Malchiodi)”. Researcher Florence supported her drawing substantively. She said that the key to measuring the intelligence of a child is to look at the details a child is able to incorporate into their mind. In the drawing, the more the details a child incorporated into their mind the more intelligent the child is.

Another art therapy assessment model is the Diagnostic Drawing Series(DDS).It is an art therapy assessment that mostly correlates to the diagnosis and treatment of major psychiatric disorders(Mills).According to the Diagnostic Drawing Series website, the DDS is mostly a three drawing series, commonly used by mental health professionals. Through this assessment, a person is requested to draw an image, picture or figure by use of colored chalk pastel in an 18 by 24-inch piece of drawing paper. In the second part of the assessment model, the person is requested to draw a tree precisely and concisely. In the third part, the person is requested to show how he is feeling by use of lines colors and various shapes available. According to Hammer and Singer, the assessment regarding the pictures is mostly grounded on either the presence or absence of various types of components such as blending and color. Why this method is very important in art therapy is that it is a form of therapy that may encourage the expression of both physical and psychological emotions in artistic media through the drawing, hence becoming very significant in art therapy.

Another assessment method is the Mandala Assessment Research Instrument, also known as ( MARI).It has its origin from Buddhism and is developed on beliefs of Joan Kello, who says that a recurring correlation of images people draw can explain their personality. A person being assessed through this model is requested to a card from a deck with various mandalas, whose designs have been enclosed in a geometric type of a particular shape. The person is then requested to choose a color from an arranged set of colored cards. The person is then requested to clearly draw the mandalas from any type of card they chose, using an oil pastel of any color of their choice.

The person is then asked to concisely explain any meanings and experiences absolutely relating to the mandala they just drew. The test actually assesses a person’s psychological progressions and their psychological conditions. According to Buddhism and Hinduism , the mandala is the geometric or pictorial design usually enclosed in a circle, representing the entire universe and used in meditation and ritual. It may also be a symbol representing self: in Jungian psychology, a symbol representing the self and inner harmony (Encarta). The importance of mandala in art therapy is the fact that it does not only make art therapy and important tool but also represents it as a candid method in application of real art.

Another art therapy assessment method is the House – Tree-Person, In this type of therapeutic assessment, the person being assessed is requested to draw three separate images which include: a house, a tree and a person (Malchiodi).The person is then given sufficient time to finish drawing the image. After this, the therapist takes time and asks questions to the patient related to the character of the image. For this assessment to be highly successful, it is usually done achromatically. This is a very critical assessment in a way that the drawn images may represent different aspects of the patient and the general feeling about himself. This model, therefore, makes art therapy a very important tool for assessment

The last method is going to discuss to substantiate the fact that art therapy is still a very important tool of assessment is the Road drawing method. Surprisingly, this may sound to be a very funny type of an assessment but still great. The person being assessed is requested to draw a road. This is a form of progressive assessment because critically, the person is drawing his own “road of life’. The significance and therefore the importance of the drawn road is that it has the ability to elicit the origin, history or even the intents of the future of the person being assessed (Hanes).


Art therapy, having been developed in the 20th century, has been applied everywhere. Mental health professionals in the society have been able to incorporate art therapy as an effective diagnostic tool especially during the identification of specific and various types of mental illness.

Art therapy has also been used in suspects and victims of sexual abuse to fully express themselves and get helped emotionally. It has also been able to be used as an important tool in children who might have problems with adequate communication skills. Art therapy has also been used and applied in adolescents and young adults who may not be able to fully and verbally communicate their feelings. It has also been used in self-discovery, self-fulfillment, and empowerment of people apart from being a tool for relaxation and self-belief. Art therapy has also been used by health professionals to heal and cure some dangerous diseases such as cancer.


As sufficiently discussed above, art therapy is a very important tool in the society. To substantiate and prove this, two French Psychiatrists:  mentallyAmbrose Tardieu and Paul-Max actually published some detailed studies on the visual characteristics of and symbolism in the artwork of those who are ill mentally. It was actually discovered that there were recurring themes and visual elements in the patient’s drawings and artwork with specific types and mental illness. Therefore I strongly support art through therapy, which still remains a fundamental tool in the society.

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