Around the same time as dance, art was recognized as a healing tool in the 1940’s. Artists working in psychiatric hospitals became aware that painting, drawing and other forms of artwork could form a basis of communication and create a fruitful therapeutic relationship between a patient and a listener. In art therapy the notion of free self expression through the art mediums is encouraged. An individual need not be a good painter or artist to be able to express their inner feelings. It is a relationship between the paper provided and the hand that is expressing the feelings associated after instructions by the therapist. The art work expressed, gives the therapist an insight into the patients mind and thus creates a framework to work with. Without much conversation the patient is able to understand his or her own psyche more objectively as they recognize elements of their image pertaining to their lives.
Art therapy uses artistic materials to express inner feelings and thoughts without verbalizing them. Many times talking about something can restrict the actual feeling or problem to be expressed. Using artistic materials an individual is able to project her feelings and can later look back and analyze it with the help of the therapist. Sometimes a group can also help in the discussion and interpretation of the work. Such discussion may encourage helpful insights into what the work might reveal about the person's life, aspirations, feelings or needs at that moment in time.