Art Therapy Vs Creative Wellness Activities what’s the big difference?

Creative Arts-Based Therapeutic Interventions

Creative Art-Based Therapeutic interventions (CATs) as well as exposure to and participating in creative arts activities can be a predictor of  wellbeing. However there are some pretty clear differences:

Traditional Creative Arts Therapies

First, Art therapy can offer an alternative approach to communicating with therapists or clients when words are not enough. It enables clients to create and share actively.

CATs work by using the body and repetitive increased activation, building coping flexibilities and empowerment.

CATs During COVID-19 Social Restrictions

In traditional services delivery, mental health professionals are customarily held within a defined environment and defined by a client-therapist relationship and appropriate therapeutic goals. Some art therapists did continue to conduct in-person treatments and wear masks, following a strict in-office distancing and sanitation procedure during COVID-19 restrictions.

Unfortunately, the quarantine and social distancing protocols initially severely impacted therapists, programs, and service organizations offering CATs. By making modifications in the delivery of their treatment interventions, they could soon adapt interventions to include the new social distance measures. Public health psychosocial guidelines for art therapy practices were developed in response to the crisis and distributed to professionals.

Furthermore, CATs are distinguishable from arts interventions or artistic activities applied within psychotherapy, counselling, rehabilitation, or medicine because of their intentional therapeutic application and change goal. CATs are associated with professional practice according to a psychological licensing agency’s regulated code of ethics.

As with traditional treatments, a measurement of psychological change illustrates the effectiveness of an intervention. The results from a thematic methods survey indicated that therapy during a health crisis should include a change process that focuses on a combination of recovery principles, creating positive changes to mental well-being.

Additionally, CATs differ from other traditional psychological approaches. It covers soothing, something often missed by different therapeutic approaches and has moved further from the original classification as a certified practice performed by therapists, counsellors, and psychotherapists.

Interestingly, due to heightened fear, anxieties, and stress over contracting the virus, online-based CATs’ interventions have remarkably increased in popularity during this time. Professional art therapy is a young profession compared to established psychological approaches like cognitive and behavioural therapies, but there is still much growth in this field. The circumstance surrounding COVID-19 has seemed to have given this field a boost into the spotlight as individuals flock back to arts and culture basics to see them through quarantine social-distancing fatigue.

Mindfulness Art-Based Programs (MABPs), Social Art Groups (SAGs), Artist Studio Immersion (ASIs)

If you have been offering or participating in classes or cultural activities, you likely believed that already established or new arts-based interventions can create social communities or support psychological and physiological regulation.

Research shows that it’s true! They can contribute to individual and community well-being through applied creative strategies. The residual effects of participation are characterized by reduced stress, decreased traumatic reactions, and decrease the severity of depression.

In this category, social workers, arts workers, wellness coaches and artists are offering creative and visual artist-based experiences. Many psychologists, physicians, and other health care professions are increasingly incorporating and collaborating with MABPs, SAGs and ASIs to suit patients’ or clients’ needs and sometimes assigning them as a type of social prescription.


Consequently, both approaches utilize art and are primarily creativity-focused while having therapeutic potential through generating mindfulness and self-care.

Thus, many of the exact mechanisms (dance, song, visual arts) that Art Therapists apply to influence positive changes in cognition and behaviour are also used in programming by MABPs and SAGs facilitators.

MABPs, SAGs and ASIs facilitators recognize that their creative interventions can naturally encourage positive life perspectives and increase emotional regulation. However, usually, they are not bound by the ethical protocols that registered practicing therapists are. They also do not create case notes or develope long-term therapeutic care plans based on a specific area of psychological study and expertise.

A professional social community-recreation organization more commonly guides these types of programming interventions. They are led by social and recreation workers and normally encourage peer support. 

Professional and practicing Artists usually direct ASI activities from their studio space and this usually includes observation and an educational component.

Both artists and arts workers are commonly hired to lead specific sessions in programs designed for MABPs that are made possible by donations, grants, and fundraising efforts within the community and social agencies.

Like in professional art therapy treatment, it is essential for those leading MABPs, SAGs, ASIs to offer a safe online or in-person space for focusing on one’s strengths.

This effectively provides an opportunity for participants to feel accepted and to build confidence.

These opportunities can help one to develope their protective factors while also gaining emotional understandings from their creative expressions.

Participate in a Be Whimsi Art Loft Mindfulness Art-Based Program, Social Art Group or Artist Studio Immersion Today!

ASI-Gentle Painting

MABP-Art and Wellness Day Retreats

SAG-Creative Conversions


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