Art Therapy Activities On Feelings

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Art therapists encourage clients to draw, paint or sculpt images in order to express feelings. Colors, shapes and images serve as a form of short-hand communication that therapists then interpret to understand thought processes and emotions.


Subjects might be asked to create a color wheel using different hues to represent their range of emotions. Each section of color is also sized according to the frequency of particular emotions. Similarly, patients may begin with the outline of a heart. Using labeled colors that represent different emotions, clients color the heart in accordance with the range and intensity of emotion that they experience. Another exercise might involve the body scan technique that begins with the basic outline of a person. Within the outline, patients add colors to body regions to represent where in their body they experience physical sensations associated with feelings.


Mandalas are simple to complex designs confined within the space of a circle. Therapists believe that coloring the patterns serves as a means of relaxation and stress alleviation. Some practitioners theorize that the completed drawings represent a view of the subconscious and are helpful in diagnosing possible underlying emotional disorders. The practice is also used to aid in the emotional healing process.


In order to understand how children feel in the present or during past circumstances, therapists have children draw faces demonstrating anger, fear, happiness, sadness or other feelings. While young children may not have the verbal communication skills to fully explain their emotions, the images provide insight. Other exercises may include having clients create doodles or cartoons of anything desired in an attempt to better understand a current mind set.


Making masks helps clients demonstrate emotions while learning the difference between how they feel and how others perceive their expressions. The concept is useful for patients of all ages from young children to older adults. The materials used to create the masks are also typically geared for various age groups. Young children capably work with paper, crayons, markers and decorative materials while older patients might create masks from clay, paper mache or photographs. The craft easily spans over multiple sessions as participants create masks to illustrate how they actually feel as opposed to how they purposely display emotions to others.


This exercise might be performed using pre-made puppets or puppets made by the patients themselves. The clients then use the creations to act out the circumstances or life events that cause negative or positive emotions. The technique is particularly beneficial when working with very young or withdrawn children.


Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "Art Therapy Activities On Feelings," in, March 6, 2016, (accessed August 9, 2022).