How is going to art therapy different than making art on my own time? Is there a difference? The answer is yes…and no. The main difference between making art during an art therapy session, and making art by yourself on your own time is, that an art therapy session is overseen by a trained psychotherapist, and personal art making is not. However, I don’t think that doing art therapy is the only way that art can be beneficial to your health. Engaging in art making is a rewarding experience. It feels good and it’s relaxing. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, to reduce levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, and to reduce pain in individuals living with chronic conditions and life threatening illnesses. You can achieve these benefits all on your own. People need to be creative. It is a drive, just like hunger, thirst, or need for affection. It’s even on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs! You don’t need a therapist to do something that is part of what it means to be human. Go ahead, be creative and make art as often as you can. It is so good for you. But that being said, having a trained therapist to help you get even more out of the art making experience can also be really useful. Doing art with an art therapist can allow you to discover deeper meaning in your work and apply it to your current situation. It can help you use your art to work through big feelings or trauma, or to problem solve or find meaning. The benefits of making art and the benefits of therapy compound each other. Both are great on their own, but they really compliment each other when used together.