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Art Therapy: How Creativity Enhances Emotional Intelligence and Mental Well-Being

In this generation, where almost everyone has these unexplained traumas or undiagnosed behaviors from when they were kids up to when they became part of the workforce, one of the hot topics in their conversations is therapy. Enrolling in emotional intelligence courses is another approach gaining traction. But while many people think of therapy as talking everything out with their therapist, it actually comes in many forms, one of which is art therapy.

You ever wonder how simply gazing at an artwork can make you feel a range of emotions? That's what art therapy is all about. The only difference is that you'll be the one expressing your feelings with every stroke of your brush. So, how does this help you enhance emotional intelligence and mental well-being? Let's find out in this blog.


What are Emotional Intelligence and Mental Well-Being?


Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to one's ability to understand and manage their emotions. It was first coined in 1990 by American psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey but was later expanded by author, psychologist, and science journalist Daniel Goleman. 

Meanwhile, mental well-being focuses on processing and understanding certain situations and experiences. It involves handling all the stress in life, nourishing your strengths, improving your weaknesses, and making decisions in general. Your mental well-being is basically your mental state. 

And there's a line that connects EQ to mental well-being. Did you ever notice how we often describe the symptoms of various psychological conditions using words that describe our feelings? For example, depression is associated with deep sadness. That is because our emotions are linked to our behaviors, thoughts, and interactions with ourselves and other people. When we have a high EQ, we tend to maintain a healthy mental state. Having a low EQ, on the other hand, poses the risk of having mental health disorders.


Understanding Art Therapy


Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy where art is used to help people explore their emotions and learn how to handle them. It is often used for children who are too young to express their psychological or emotional concerns using words. But as people become more aware of mental health today, adults start to partake in it as well.


Types of Art Therapy

Visual Arts 

Visual arts therapy engages participants in activities like painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage. Through this medium, individuals can externalize their inner experiences, often allowing for a clearer understanding of their emotions and thoughts. The process involves the use of colors, shapes, and textures as symbolic representations of personal narratives. Guided by an art therapist, individuals are encouraged to freely express themselves and reflect on their creations, promoting introspection and healing.


Writing therapy, also known as expressive writing, involves journaling, poetry, storytelling, and other forms of written expression. Participants translate their thoughts and emotions into words, fostering self-awareness and providing a structured way to process complex feelings. This form of therapy can help individuals gain insights into their inner worlds as well as cultivate a sense of empowerment through the act of storytelling.


Music therapy leverages the power of sound and rhythm to promote emotional well-being. Participants might engage in playing instruments, composing music, or even simply listening to carefully selected pieces. Music can elicit emotions and memories, serving as a vessel for exploring feelings that might be difficult to express verbally. Trained music therapists create tailored experiences that encourage relaxation, emotional release, and self-expression.


Dance therapy encourages individuals to use movement as a means of emotional expression and communication. Guided by a dance or movement therapist, participants explore various movements that reflect their inner states. Dance therapy can help individuals reconnect with their bodies, release physical tension, and express emotions that might be difficult to articulate otherwise. This form of therapy is particularly effective for those who find it easier to express themselves physically than verbally.


Drama therapy invites participants to engage in theatrical activities, role-playing, and improvisation to take them into their thoughts and emotions. Through adopting different roles, individuals can gain insights into their own perspectives and experiences as well as understand the viewpoints of others. Drama therapy can boost self-confidence, empathy, and creative problem-solving skills while providing a safe space to explore and address personal challenges.


A man sits in a dark room, highlighted by a glimmer of rainbow light

Credit to cottonbro studio on Pexels


How Art Therapy Helps



Through art, we get to express things we never get the chance to say or show in real life. We get to be free and honest in the art we create.

Regulates Emotions 

While doing art therapy helps us recognize our emotions better, it also takes our minds off of things, bringing us to a different world—a more comfortable one. It helps us ease the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and other extreme emotions in a few moments. 

Recognizes Untapped Feelings

Sometimes, people have deep feelings that they cannot identify. By engaging in art activities, one can unlock these feelings, be guided by what brought them on, and deal with them.

Boost Self-Esteem

Achievement means a lot to our mental well-being. And finishing an art activity gives us that sense of accomplishment that boosts our confidence to do more. It helps us appreciate ourselves even more.


The Bottom Line


Art therapy is a powerful and beneficial outlet for promoting emotional intelligence and improving well-being. It helps individuals understand their emotions and regulate them in a healthier way by providing a safe space for self-expression. Through art therapy, individuals can begin to heal and find balance in their lives.