When we think of therapy, we often think first of talk therapy—traditional psychotherapy that engages a client and a therapist in conversation. This treatment modality allows individuals to share their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in words. The therapist helps to challenge any distorted beliefs and attitudes, as well as to develop adaptive ways to cope. Both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) incorporate talk therapy techniques.
Art therapy is often incorporated into treatment as an alternative or complement to traditional talk therapy. Art therapy uses creative expression as a medium to share, process, and reflect on thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Art therapists are typically trained in art as well as psychotherapy, but participants are not required to be skilled or experienced in art. It simply requires a willingness to engage in a creative activity alongside a therapist who guides the therapeutic process. The therapist may gain insights from observing the individual before, during, and after art creation, as well as from examining the finished product.