Art Therapy Activities for Self-discovery

art therapy activities

Art therapy activities are an excellent way to deepen the knowledge about yourself. Through fun activity discover what moves you and what keeps you stuck. More importantly remind yourself of your value.

We are too often stuck in a loop of negative self talk, that we need a little kick to get us out of it and back on the right track. Most of our daily problems could be solved, if we would only understand ourselves better.

You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from art therapy activities. Because art therapy activities are specifically designed so that anyone can do them, regardless of their artistic abilities. And who knows, you may end up discovering your inner artist.

For most of these activities you will need nothing more than pen and paper.


Art Therapy Activities for Self-discovery


paint your emotions


Paint your emotions

How to paint emotions

Start by choosing your medium. Take whatever you feel most comfortable with, or whatever you have on hand. You can also use different mediums. For instance you can combine watercolors and markers. Just make sure you have at least 3 colors available. Take a sheet of paper, heavier or lighter depending on the medium you will use.

When everything is ready,take notice of how you feel. Maybe you will feel unsure of how you are supposed to do this, or you will feel excited for trying out this new thing. Whatever it is that you feel, try to bring it to the paper. Don’t think about what you do, don’t choose colors, simply let your hands do whatever they feel like doing. Put your conscious mind to rest and allow your unconscious mind to express itself through your hands. If one word or sentence pops in your mind, write it down. Maybe you will feel the need to change the hand or close eyes, do it. Do whatever comes to your mind, without thinking, and especially without judging.

Whenever the need to stop arrives, put down your pen or a brush. That’s it. Your work is done. 

Benefits of painting emotions

When you are finished with the painting observe how you feel. Just observe, don’t give any opinion or judgement to your feelings. Now take a look at your work, again without judging, just look at it and take notice of what thoughts come to your mind while looking at it. If you wrote some words, read them and take a moment to think about what those words mean to you.

Repeat this activity once a week or when you feel strong emotions. And just observe, without judgement. If you really let your unconsciousness do the work, you should discover your deep thoughts, desires, fears and maybe even blockades you were not aware of. 

clutter collage

Create a clutter collage

How to create a clutter collage

Find pictures, or create your own ones, that represent everything that is cluttering your life. Clutter can be anything, from things to habits, people whose energy is dragging you down, even negative thoughts.

Go through your life, and see what is it that is taking up your space, time and energy. Anything that is not bringing you happiness, peace or growth is a clutter.

Glue all those pictures on one paper. This is your clutter collage

Benefits of creating a clutter collage

Only by becoming aware of the clutter in your life, you may start to clear your life to make space for better things. Every now and then take a look at your clutter collage and see what could go. By clearing out the clutter we free ourselves of a big burden and open our life for new things.

life timeline

Create your life timeline

How to create a life timeline

Draw a long line across the whole paper. On the beginning of the line mark the day you were born and at the end mark today’s day. In equal distances on the line mark every year from your birth until today.

Now start writing in all the important moments of your life. This may be anything from graduations, birthdays of important people, job change, important achievement, beginning and ending of a relationship, new friendships, travel, illness, a book. Really anything that is, or was at the time important to you.

Choose different colors, write bigger or smaller words depending on importance. Think back on your life and try to remember as many memories as possible. 

Now if you wish you can do the future timeline.

Turn the page and again draw a long line across the whole paper. Only this time, first mark is today’s date, and there is no end mark. You don’t have to make year marks, only make in random distances (in order you would like it to happen) important moments you would like to happen. All your dreams and wishes for the future.

Benefits of creating a life timeline

This is a reflective activity that makes you look back on your life and all that happened to you. It should make you see how far you’ve come, how much you’ve gone through. It should help you put your whole life in perspective. And also, if you decide to make it, a blueprint for the future you want.

draw yourself as a tree

Draw yourself as a tree

How to draw yourself as a tree

Draw a tree with a branched roots and a big treetop with lots of leaves (big enough to fit one or few words). On every root write down your virtues, strengths, skills and good habits. And on the leaves write everything you would like to improve, all the skills you want to learn and all the habits you want to adopt.

Benefits of drawing yourself as a tree

Because we so often think about our faults, this is an excellent activity that will get you to think positively about yourself and to remember all your good qualities. And all the skills you are yet to acquire.

mind map your thoughts

Mind map your thoughts

How to mind map your thoughts

First, start by choosing a main theme, choose an area of your life you would like to shed some light on. That can be something like dreams, fears, habits. Or if you have a lot of different thoughts and you would like to make some sense of them and put them in order, choose a theme my thoughts.

Second, take a sheet of paper and in the middle draw a circle with chosen theme written inside. 

Third, choose the way you want to fill out your mind map. There are three ways you can do that. 

  • level by level – first you fill out all the 1. levels of branches, those are direct links to the main topic, then you fill out all the 2. levels, then if needed all the 3. levels, etc.
  • branch by branch – you fill out one whole branch, with all it’s levels, before moving on to other branch
  • free-style – filling out freely, as thoughts come to you, without any particular order

Benefits of mind mapping your thoughts

Mind mapping defined topics will help you discover more about certain aspects of yourself. On the other hand mind mapping current thoughts will give you clarity and order when your thoughts (life) get chaotic. It can be especially helpful if you have a big decision to make. 


Now just pick one activity and start uncovering hidden parts of your person.


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4 Responses

  1. Rita says:

    Thanks for these ideas. I will be using the life time line with people recovering from addiction. Great reflection tool for them and a way to see a future for themselves.

  2. Anna says:

    I love it! Can’t wait to give them a go. Thanks for sharing

  3. Jamie Jacque, LCPC says:

    These aren’t therapy activities without a therapist and a treatment plan. They are self discovery activities that may be therapeutic. Please learn the difference.

    • Stephanie Miller, PhD says:

      Jamie, your comment sounds really harsh and might deter the blogger from posting again. It might sound better like “This is so great! I would be careful in calling them art therapy as that requires working with a therapist. But they are amazing activities for self discovery which can also be very therapeutic.”

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