A teenager uses art therapy as a tool for ADHD management.

Art Therapy as a Tool for ADHD Management

Art therapy can help people with ADHD regulate their emotions, practice mindfulness, and reduce stress.

Share:

share icon Facebook logo LinkedIn logo

How art therapy treats ADHD

Art therapy can be an effective treatment for people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as it allows them to express themselves creatively instead of with words (as with traditional talk therapy). Through art-making and creative processes, people with ADHD can improve their focus and attention, regulate their emotions, and develop better impulse control. The act of creating art can also serve as a calming and grounding activity, helping to reduce hyperactivity and restlessness—common ADHD symptoms. Additionally, art therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for people to explore their thoughts and feelings, leading to a greater understanding of their ADHD symptoms and how to manage them. Overall, art therapy offers a unique and beneficial approach to treating ADHD by harnessing the power of creativity and self-expression.

Skills taught in art therapy for ADHD

Some of the skills taught in art therapy for ADHD are as follows:

Emotion regulation

Art therapy sessions teach people with ADHD how to identify and manage their emotions through artistic expression. By using different visual art mediums in an art therapy session, such as drawing or painting, people with ADHD can explore their feelings and develop healthy coping strategies for regulating their emotions.

Mindfulness

Art therapy helps people with ADHD practice mindfulness by encouraging them to focus on the present moment and engage in the creative process. Through activities like guided art meditation or sensory art experiences, an art therapist can help people with ADHD to be more aware of their thoughts and emotions and develop greater self-awareness and self-regulation.

Self-expression

Art therapy provides a safe and supportive space for people with ADHD to freely express themselves through art. By creating artwork, people can communicate their thoughts, feelings, and experiences creatively and develop a greater sense of self-acceptance and self-expression.

Social skills

When done in a group, art therapy can improve social skills for people with ADHD. Collaborative art projects and group discussions can help people in group art therapy build communication skills, develop empathy, and learn to work cooperatively with others. Ultimately an art therapy group can help people enhance their social interactions and relationships.

Cognitive skills

Art therapy sessions can help people with ADHD improve cognitive skills by engaging in art-making activities that require problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking. In addition, art therapy can also enhance memory, attention, and executive functioning through engaging in mindful and creative tasks.

Stress reduction

Art therapy offers people with ADHD a creative outlet to reduce stress and anxiety. By engaging in art-making activities, people can experience a sense of relaxation and calm and learn healthy ways to cope with stressors in their lives. This can result in a reduction in stress-related symptoms and improved overall well-being for those with ADHD.

Benefits of art therapy for ADHD

Art therapy has been shown to have long-term mental health benefits for people with ADHD. Through the creative process, people can learn to manage their symptoms and develop coping mechanisms that can be applied in various areas of their lives. Art therapy can also improve self-esteem and self-awareness, helping people with ADHD to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, the nonverbal nature of art therapy can provide a unique outlet for expression and communication, allowing people to process their emotions without words. 

How quickly does art therapy work for ADHD? 

Art therapy can work quickly for people with ADHD. Many people find that engaging in creative expression through art allows them to focus their energy and manage their impulsivity in a more productive way. By using art as a tool for self-expression and self-regulation, people with ADHD can experience immediate relief and improved concentration.

Coping skills for ADHD

While not a replacement for professional mental health support, here are some coping skills that may benefit people with ADHD:

Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can help people with ADHD manage their symptoms by releasing pent-up energy and reducing impulsivity. Exercise also boosts mood and improves focus, making it a valuable coping skill for managing ADHD symptoms.

Mindfulness and meditation

Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help people with ADHD improve their ability to stay present and focused while also reducing stress and anxiety. By incorporating mindfulness into their daily routine, people can better manage their ADHD symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Time management tools

Using tools such as planners, calendars, and reminders can help people with ADHD better organize their responsibilities and manage their time effectively. By breaking tasks into smaller, manageable chunks and setting specific goals, people can improve their productivity and reduce the impact of ADHD symptoms on their daily lives.

Other types of treatments for ADHD

In addition to art therapy and coping skills, some other types of treatments for ADHD are as follows: 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that can contribute to the symptoms of ADHD. It helps people with ADHD develop coping strategies and improve their self-regulation skills.

Behavioral therapy

This therapy focuses on modifying specific behaviors that are problematic for people with ADHD, such as impulsivity and inattention. It involves using reinforcement and consequences to encourage positive behaviors and discourage negative ones.

Coaching

ADHD coaching is a non-clinical intervention that helps people with ADHD improve their time management, organizational skills, and overall functioning. Coaches can provide individualized strategies and support to help people with ADHD reach their goals and manage their symptoms more effectively.

Intensive outpatient program for ADHD

In some cases, a person with ADHD may benefit from intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) to help manage their symptoms. IOP involves a structured program that includes therapy, medication management, and skill-building activities to address the challenges associated with ADHD for those with more severe symptoms or co-occurring conditions. IOP can provide people with the support they need to develop strategies for managing impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. By working closely with a team of professionals, people with ADHD can learn how to better regulate their emotions and improve their ability to focus on daily tasks. 

ADHD treatment with Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with serious mental health conditions, including ADHD. Our expert clinicians incorporate evidence-based therapies, including art therapy, into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing ADHD is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

Charlie Health shield logo

Comprehensive mental health treatment from home

90% of Charlie Health clients and their families would recommend Charlie Health

Girl smiling talking to her mother

We're building treatment plans as unique as you.