What is arthérapie?

We use the term Arthérapie on our site to facilitate your search on the web. This word is often seen as a single word, but the correct spelling is Art-Therapy.

The vast majority of specialists in Artherapy define this specialty as: “practice of care based on the therapeutic use of the process of artistic creation”.

Therapy adds to art the project of self-transformation. Art adds to the therapy the ambition to represent in an enigmatic way the great themes of the human condition. Creation – act and result – can allow the profound transformation of the creative subject. Art therapy consists of accompanying these creations in a symbolic journey in the service of the development of the person towards a better way”, “Art therapy is a method which consists in creating the conditions favorable to overcoming the difficulties personal through the stimulation of creative abilities.”

There are several organizations in France seeking to bring together people who practice art therapy. The Guild of Art Therapists and the Professional Art Therapy League and the French Federation of Art Therapy are examples. In Canada, art therapists are little known and little used.

Art therapy is a very broad sphere of art. You can practice it with us thanks to our collection of ready-to-color images, but do not hesitate to explore the other types of arts to help your well-being.

What is arthérapie?


Painting is frequently used in art therapy. It is the subject of free instructions or with constraints. The productions thus created are sometimes the subject of exhibitions even if certain authors advise against it.


Clay is used for its sensory properties as well as for its ability to facilitate the expression of archaic aspects of the psyche.

The clay allows the creation of forms in volumes which can be used as objects of games between the participants the therapists. Thus the space of creation also becomes a space of play, a relational space… We can see in these games, the materialization of a “transitional space” as it was described by Winnicott in his theories of transitionality and play. These theories are often taken up in the theorization of art therapy whatever the trends.

Modeling clay

Modeling clay has properties similar to clay in its ability to represent shapes in volume but its sensory capacities are different: it cannot be diluted, water is not used with it, its contact is less sensual, it is often oilier to the touch.

Compared to clay, modeling clay can be declined in almost all colors thanks to the different mixtures between the basic colors. The use of modeling clay has a playful aspect and can evoke childhood for adult participants.


Collage is a mediation based on the principle of cutting out paper elements and composing from these different elements. For example: Newspapers, special papers of various colors and textures, images recovered here and there.

During a collage session, most of the time newspapers and various papers are placed on a table from which the participants can cut out elements that appeal to them and which they will then stick on a sheet provided for this purpose. The result is a composition that mirrors the psychic state of the person who created it. You can also use words cut from newspapers.

For the psychologist and psychoanalyst from Lyon, Jean Paul Petit, trainer in artistic mediations, “The essential of the work of collage is this work of linking: links between the images in the composition, links between images and experiences, imagination and affects, recognition of its inscription in its history”.


Drawing is a mediation that has been widely used and studied by psychologists and psychologists, especially in child psychotherapy.

It is naturally used in art therapy sometimes associated with other graphic and plastic approaches (painting, collage, writing, etc.).


Photography can allow people in need of art therapy to open up to the world and photograph what they love. Photos can be exhibited in galleries along with the other arts, in order to bring the artist personal satisfaction.


This is a mediation developed by Claudine Vacheret, psychoanalytic orientation psychologist and professor at the University of Lyon. This method uses collections of pre-selected photographs according to the target audiences and with a strong symbolic charge. The framework and course of the photolanguage workshop follow a precise protocol during which the participants choose a photo that appeals to them and around which they discuss with the groups of participants after having explained their choice. This mediation is very effective for circulating the word in a group.



The use of puppets as therapeutic mediation originated from the Swiss puppeteer Käthy Wüthrich (1931-2007) who developed this technique as well as an accompanying theory. It can go through the making of puppets or through the choice among the puppets offered to the participants.

Their staging can be worked from a scenario or in improvised free play. Their use can be compared to mediations such as theater or psychodrama because of the staging and acting aspect they imply. In this sense, they can make it possible to stage conscious or unconscious conflicts of the people who make them play. They also make it possible to express certain repressed emotions or to formulate certain needs of the person.


Video can be used as a therapeutic mediation. It is sometimes used in psychiatry during workshops where the participants create a filmed sequence with the help of the workshop leader who can be a nurse, a psychologist, a videographer-intervener or an art therapist.



It is about the use of the fabric as mediation, sometimes in relation to the dance, the movement of the body. The sensory aspect of the fabric is highlighted. It can also be used for hiding, dressing, as a cape, etc.


From the perspective of art therapy, playing is not just a game, it is also a way of revealing “who I am”, “what I can do”, “what I can be”. Through the subtle displacements it allows, and whatever its form, classic, modern or avant-garde, theatrical expression could be the support of our unspoken, of our creative force. Subtle mechanisms would allow both the release of “energies” that have been contained for too long and their valorization in a here and a now.


Music is frequently used as mediation, this is called music therapy and those who practice it are called music therapists. It is a separate branch of art therapy.

*This text is takenin part by Wikipedia