3 Expressive Art Therapy Activities You Should Know About

Woman paints a work of art, one of the expressive art therapy activities offered in recovery

Every single person has their ways of expressing their feelings. It could be through music, dance, writing, or painting. This is precisely what expressive art therapy means and does –  it’s a creative approach to addressing your inner self through art. Expressive art therapy is one of the most effective methods for self-discovery. Self-expression through art therapy can help open the door to self-reflection and introspection while rehabbing and recovering from addiction. Contact us online or call us at 781.587.3636 today to discover how we use expressive art therapy to heal and teach patients in the programs at Aftermath Addiction Treatment Center

What Is Expressive Art Therapy?

Expressive art therapy is a dynamic therapeutic process that combines psychology and creativity. The goal is to enhance emotional growth and foster wellness in patients with substance misuse or addiction issues. Art therapy harnesses a person’s raw emotions and unique inner desires to create art in any form. Expressive art therapy can involve writing poetry, painting, writing stories, and more. The psychological aspect of art therapy activities can help a patient see their true self. Flexing creative muscles has the potential to help people explore different forms of art and broaden their sense of imagination. Some critical things you should know about when it comes to expressive art therapy include:

  • The process of creating art is just as valuable as the finished piece of art
  • This is your time, so find an uninterrupted space to create
  • Focus on the journey, not the destination, by not prioritizing the aesthetic beauty of the art 
  • Improvise with the materials you have access to
  • Follow Picasso’s advice and create art like a child, with reckless abandon and have fun

3 Powerful Expressive Art Therapy Activities

When you search for “art therapy near me,” you’ll see lists of hundreds of expressive art therapy activities to try. Each of the art therapy options has value and meaning, but here are three of the most powerful artistic endeavors:


Poetry is one of the best expressive art therapy activities to express deep, intense, and often scary emotions that may be too difficult to articulate through talk therapy. Poetry, in any form, is one art therapy activity that can help put your feelings into words. Poetry helps people address and overcome emotions. Writing poetry, short stories, or creative nonfiction can also give patients a different perspective on their lives. 

Draw a Map of Your Feelings

Are you searching for “art therapy near me?” You’ll need a map to find the help you need and deserve, and this expressive art therapy activity is exactly that. A map of your feelings will visually depict your emotions through images and symbols. It can list all the states of feeling that you regularly encounter throughout each day. This map may include everything from when you wake up to when you drift off to sleep. “Feeling states” are expressed as adjectives, such as:

  • Angry
  • Excited
  • Happy
  • Sleepy
  • Worried
  • Annoyed
  • Stressed
  • Apathetic

You will place your feeling states randomly on a piece of paper and draw an arrow from one feeling state to the other, creating a map of your mood cycle during a typical day. You can enhance your map by drawing or coloring your environment around each feeling. What is around y, ou and how does that make you feel?

Creating a map of feelings in expressive art therapy can be a mirror that reflects your inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Create a Self Portrait Out of Symbols and Shapes

You don’t need to be an artist to create expressive art. Making a self-portrait using symbols and shapes can be the first step to making art in art therapy. This self-portrait can be a collage of images representing your personality that you glue or symbols that you draw or color on paper. Your art therapy portrait of yourself can serve as an ongoing, living project that changes with you as you heal, learn, grow, and recover in the programs at Aftermath Addiction Treatment Center.

The Importance of Art in Therapy

There is so much power in art, and our skilled, compassionate staff uses expressive art therapy as a way of helping patients achieve personal growth, self-discovery, and self-expression through various art forms. In conjunction with other programs, we hope the expressive art therapy activities will help you better understand yourself as you recover from addiction.

Learn More at Aftermath Addiction Treatment Center

If you or someone you love is battling addiction, learn how expressive art therapy during the programs at Aftermath Addiction Treatment Center can be a vital piece of the puzzle we help you complete to see the true you that will shine again. Contact us using our secure online form or at 781.587.3636 today.