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5 Art Therapy Prompts

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When your healing process is feeling heavy or overwhelming, it can help to use your creativity. And yet, there are times where tapping into that creativity feels like an impossible burden. Enter creativity and art therapy prompts.

Note: these art therapy prompts aren’t just for visual arts. Art has a lot of applications, so we’re going to aim for as many types of art as possible. Art is also more than just generating a new something and can even get into how something is collected or curated. Whatever else art is, it’s a way to have fun and let go of the weight that holds you down and/or holds you back.

Ready to reframe & reclaim your creativity?

Prompt One: The Wall

Your fears or anxieties can sometimes feel huge. Visualize a wall between you and your fear or anxiety. Then use your favorite medium to express that wall. Draw it, paint it, meditate about a metaphysical wall, or build a miniature version using materials you have on hand – blocks, aluminum foil, sculpting clay, etc. Then take a photo to keep the wall in your photos.

Questions to consider: what was the experience like visualizing the wall? How will this help you heal?

Prompt Two: Sort It Out

Make a list of challenges you’re currently facing. These challenges can be things you have debilitating emotions about (perhaps an experience that caused you guilt or shame, etc.) or they can be things you feel are holding you back (a phobia or habit you wish you could change or resolve). Next, create a mindmap using the list to start thinking about all the ways these challenges have affected you. What emotions do you feel about these challenges? What physical symptoms have you noticed that may be related?

Use markers or colored pens to write out your list or use stickers or even crayons after the fact to sort your map into categories. Suggested categories can be timeline (confront now, save for later), level of help (talk about this in therapy, journal about this), or even responsibility (what things can you control/change? what things are out of your control?)

Questions to consider: What challenges did you know about when you started? Which challenges surprised you as you created the mindmap?

Prompt Three: Elemental Re-creation

Go to a place where you feel safe. Take a moment to either close your eyes or look down and take a few breaths. Then, look up or open your eyes and make note of the first thing you see. Draw or record this in your journal. Then repeat this process, noticing more and more elements of your safe space. Consider why you noticed which elements you noticed and then ask – what about this place makes you feel so safe?

Questions to consider: What can you do to re-create this feeling of safety in other places/spaces in your life? What elements could you carry with you (maybe take a photo of the way the light streams in on your phone to keep with you when you’re feeling overwhelmed, etc.)?

Prompt Four: Soundscape

Make a list of songs or sounds that make you feel safe, peaceful, or relaxed. Next, visit your favorite music app and gather those sounds/songs into a playlist. Order the playlist as you like. Think of your future self and how peaceful or relaxed they will feel listening to this playlist.

Questions to consider: What songs would your future self add for you?

Prompt Five: Colors of Kindness

Visit your favorite paint store and gather some paint swatches that make you feel at ease or comfortable. When you’ve got your swatches in a safe space, creatively name each one to represent your values or desires. Use a thesaurus to look up words that reassure and comfort you, then use those words in the names. Use the swatches to make a collage to hang on your wall, or gather the swatches in a portable envelope to carry with you as a totem or visual mantra.

Questions to consider: How do the colors you chose relate to your existing environment? Are there things you can do to alter your home environment to match these colors?

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