How Art Heals

The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, indicates that an idea can be conveyed with a single still image. The visualization makes it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly. Art is a language universally understood.

Christopher, 8 yrs. old. My home office desk. I love the detail on the phone and it ringing message. I'd forgotten about my clear phone which  allowed you to see all the wires and parts inside the phone. He's drawn that detail. Also my footstool under my desk.

Christopher, 8 yrs. old. My home office desk. I’d forgotten about my clear phone which allowed you to see all the wires and parts inside the phone. He’s drawn that detail along with the adding machine tape running over on my desk. I also love the ringing message and footstool under my desk.

When I was a child my mother encouraged me to draw and color. Although I wasn’t very artistic, I found coloring in a book relaxing and an enjoyable diversion. She also urged us to make birthday and get well cards for family and friends on a plain white sheet or construction color paper, adding our own words. My mom continued this same tradition with her grandchildren. She supplied the needed materials for my two children in making cards for us while we were in the hospital. My sister-in-law, Dianne, did the same while the kids were at her house. To this day I treasure these drawings and homemade cards. It gives me insight to how they were feeling and what they missed or were struggling with. It made me feel closer to them at the time I received the artwork. When I look at it now, I appreciate it even more because it magically reconnects me to them in their younger years.

Christopher's drawing of his dad's home office desk. I love the details and the message on the computer screens message. May 1991

Christopher’s drawing of his dad’s empty desk. Great detail which brings back the memory of our old cumbersome monitor. I love the message on the screen. May, 1991. Eight years old.


Children are naturally creative and it may be easier for them to draw a picture than to answer questions directly. Art can relieve stress, increase awareness of self and develop healthy and effective coping skills. Artwork is a non-threatening way which may allow a child to tackle tough issues in a creative way without words. Children of all ages, nationalities and cultures can benefit from art, but make sure the art supplies are age appropriate before you set them free to express themselves. A simple prompt may be needed to help get them started, such as asking them to draw a house or favorite food or toy. Some kids will pour their hearts out on the page, while others may require more inspiration.

I don’t see children coloring very often. If they’re indoors, I usually see them playing with toys or electronics for entertainment. Now that I’m reminded of the benefits of art, I’m going to have coloring books, crayons, pencils and construction paper on hand for them. I don’t want this to become a lost craft.

This activity can be easily done at home, but for more serious issues a professional art therapist may be helpful. They are educated to help a child cope with the following:

  • The death of a family member or friend
  • Childhood trauma involving physical, mental, or sexual abuse
  • Learning disabilities
  • Emotional issues like fear of abandonment or phobias
  • Improving cognitive abilities
  • Dealing with the challenges of serious diseases like cancer
  • Treating mental disorders such as schizophrenia or depression
  • Helping children understand and deal with physical disabilities
  • Understanding and treating behavioral problems

If you feel your child could benefit from a professional art therapist, pick one who has experience treating children with the same or similar issues your child is struggling with. Ask friends or family members for recommendations. A medical or mental health professional may also have referrals. Don’t be afraid to meet with the therapist first to get a sense of whom and how he or she works. Ask about their education and credentials and make sure they have the proper licensing and certifications.


Art can be a creative outlet for adults as well. If you’re feeling stressed or down in the dumps, art may be just what you need to jump start your life and get you feeling better again. There are adult license art therapist available to help you cope with more serious issues. How art helps:

  1. By its very nature, it allows the artists to express all kinds of different and complicated emotions such as: fury, fear, sorrow and anger.
  2. It helps the artist to understand themselves and the purpose of their life.
  3. It activates the creative side of the brain.
  4. Art is a language unto itself that does not need to be spoken, but only appreciated.
  5. It can act like a vase would to flowers and be a place where dreadful thoughts and emotions can be put away forever.
  6. It will help you to get closer to the people who mean the most to you.


Art may be worth a thousand words. Have you given it a try? Everyone has an artist ability. I need to throw out my self-doubt and not worry if may work doesn’t look as good as my children’s or any other’s. What benefits do you believe come from art?