Art Therapy Activities For Self-Discovery

art therapy activities
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.

Art therapy activities are an excellent way to deepen your knowledge about yourself. Through fun activities 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.

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



Art Therapy Activities for Self-discovery


paint your emotions

Paint your 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 about 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 your hand or close your 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. 


When you are finished with the painting observe how you feel. Just observe, don’t give any opinion or judgment 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 judgment. 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


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 clutter.

Glue all those pictures on one paper. This is your 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


Draw a long line across the whole paper. On the beginning of the line write a mark of 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, an 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, the 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 the order you would like it to happen) important moments you would like to happen. All your dreams and wishes for the future.


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


Draw a tree with branched roots and a big treetop with lots of leaves (big enough to fit one or a 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.


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


First, start by choosing the 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 a 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 its levels, before moving on to another branch
  • free-style – filling out freely, as thoughts come to you, without any particular order

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.


If you enjoyed this post be sure to share it with your friends and spread the knowledge.


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6 thoughts on “Art Therapy Activities For Self-Discovery

  1. Hello, I started teaching art therapy classes this year after being accredited in a course in London. I am Brazilian and I live in the capital city of São Paulo. I regularly research new exercises and techniques to pass on to my students. I also produce my own works. Oil on canvas using the grattage technique, created and developed by the German artist Max Ernst at the beginning of the 20th century. I also try to develop the concept of pareidolia. Ernst was one of the participants in the Dada movement, a precursor to the Surrealist movement. I enjoyed your presentation and I intend to accompany you in due course.


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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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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