For those interested in self-guided art therapy these are the essential books that will teach you all the ins and outs of this beneficial activity.
Self-guided art therapy is a form of self-care. Its benefits are similar to journaling or keeping a diary. Just instead of using only words to express, observe, and correct yourself, you are using art forms.
A healthy person can and should explore their own personality, and work on correcting any issues they may encounter. Every person that doesn’t have an existing mental health problem can use art-therapy activities to maintain their mental health.
People have been using art to express themselves since forever. Art has such a deep meaning to us that therapists and mental health professionals also started using it to help their patients heal and overcome difficulties. Art therapy is a relatively new branch of psychotherapy that combines art-making and psychotherapy and it’s been quite successful in treating mental health disorders.
If a person has moderate or severe mental health problems then they should reach out to a professional. But if you’re looking for ways to work on yourself, get to know yourself better, and just generally maintain your mental wellbeing then self-guided art therapy is a wonderful way to do that.
4 Best Books To Learn About Art Therapy
250 Brief Creative and Practical Art Therapy Techniques – Susan I Buchalter
Susan Buchalter is an experienced art therapist. She wrote many books on art therapy and all of them are full of ideas, techniques, and inspiration. But for the purpose of self-guided art therapy, I find this book to be her best one.
It starts with a short introduction of who, what, and where, and then immediately goes to the point, that is the art therapy activities.
Activities are divided into 8 categories
- self-esteem and self-compassion,
- connections and relationships,
- change and problem-solving,
- anxiety and stress,
- CBT-based: thought, emotion, behavior,
- Stimulating and thought-provoking.
Having activities grouped by theme makes it really easy to just pick the purpose of your art therapy and then choose an appropriate activity.
For every activity, you’ll find instructions, questions, and an example. Instructions are simple and straightforward. The questions are there to direct your thoughts, you can answer them or you can write your own thoughts. I have a notebook for my art therapy and I dedicate 1 whole spread for a session. On one page I create art and on the other, I write my answers and other thoughts that came to me during the creative process.
Art Therapy Sourcebook – Cathy Malchiodi
This book will introduce you to the world of art therapy. It has all the basics you’ll want to know about art therapy. With lots of info about benefits, different approaches, techniques, and examples for a better understanding of how it all works.
The overall tone of the book is warm and friendly. It encourages readers to enjoy the process of creating art, without fear.
The book is easy to read, it’s not overly technical so anyone can pick up the book, read it and understand it.
At the end of the book, you can find activities that you can do by yourself at home.
It’s a well-rounded book that will help you build a good foundation so that you can have full benefits from your self-guided art therapy activities.
Art and Healing: Using Expressive Art to Heal Your Body, Mind, and Spirit – Barbara Ganim
Life leaves scars on all of us, art helps us heal them. In this inspirational book, Barbara Ganim shares practices to heal mind, body, and spirit using the power of creation.
In the first three chapters, you’ll learn how art can help you heal, how to begin using art for healing, and how to express your emotions using art and imagery.
The rest of the book is filled with concrete activities you can do by yourself at home. There is also a guided meditation and visualization to help you relax and prepare for the activity and prompts that encourage you to think about your image to help you better understand yourself.
Activities are divided into four sections:
- healing the mind,
- healing the body,
- transformation of the spirit,
- healing others.
Although the main theme of the book is healing, it’s not just about healing. It’s also about self-discovery, the expression of emotions and thoughts, and self-development. The book Art and Healing is an excellent companion for self-guided art therapy.
Essential Art Therapy Exercises: Effective Techniques to Manage Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD – Leah Guzman
After a short intro, the book immediately gets to the point. Leah Guzman shares a lot of interesting and engaging art therapy activities for professionals to do with their clients but that anyone can also do at home.
Activities are divided by the medium used to create. So you have categories like:
- painting and drawing,
- digital and photo,
- sculpting and textiles,
Depending on what you have available, or what you’re in the mood for you can easily browse through the exercises to choose the one that suits your needs at that moment.
Every activity is accompanied by an explanation of its purpose, potential outcomes, and questions for deeper exploration.
Explore more art therapy activities you can do at home:
More books on art therapy
Introduction To Art Therapy – Judith A. Rubin
If you want to get into more detail on art therapy then I suggest you read Introduction To Art Therapy. It’s a detailed book on the history of art therapy, all the different practices, and a lot of examples and stories of how art therapy helped people recover and overcome their difficulties. It does get a bit technical but if you want to get deeper into the subject this is the book to read.
Art Is a Way of Knowing: A Guide to Self-Knowledge and Spiritual Fulfillment through Creativity – Pat B. Allen
In this book, art therapist Pat Allen shares her story. How she uses art to learn more about herself, the discoveries she made, and the challenges she encountered. If you like first-hand stories and personal experiences you’ll find this book to be enjoyable and informative.
Art Heals: How Creativity Cures the Soul – Shaun McNiff
Shaun McNiff skillfully connects art and spirituality to create a wholesome book. He challenges many misconceptions and prejudice, emphasizes the importance of creativity in everyday life, and covers a lot of interesting topics about art therapy. Lastly, he shares his vision for the future of art therapy.
All people have this inner desire to create. Self-guided art therapy is the perfect way to satisfy that deeply rooted need for creation. These books on art therapy will guide you to create art, enjoy the process and learn something about yourself along the way.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a therapist. I am a person that is very interested in art, psychology, and working on myself, by myself. I read a lot, and explore and practice even more. All opinions shared here are formed through my exploration and personal experience and are for informational purposes only. Information shared here does not constitute professional advice. All actions you take on account of the information provided here are at your own responsibility. Every person should rely on their own good judgment, do their research, and make an informed decision.