A young woman uses art therapy to cope with trauma.

Art Therapy Can Help You Cope With Trauma

Art therapy allows people to communicate their emotions and experiences of trauma through creative expression.


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How art therapy treats trauma

Art therapy can be a powerful tool in treating trauma. By allowing people to express their feelings and experiences through art, they can process and work through their trauma in a safe and therapeutic environment. Through different art mediums and techniques, a person can communicate their emotions and experiences in a non-verbal way, which can be especially beneficial for those who struggle to express themselves through words. Working with an art therapist provides a means for a person to explore and confront their trauma in a supportive and non-judgmental space, ultimately leading to healing and growth.

Skills taught in art therapy for trauma

Coping skills

Art therapy for trauma teaches people how to use artistic expression as a coping mechanism to manage their thoughts and emotions surrounding the traumatic experience. Art-making helps people develop healthier coping strategies and reduces the negative impact of trauma on their mental health.

Emotional regulation

Art therapy helps people regulate their emotions by providing a creative outlet to express their feelings in a safe and non-judgmental environment. Through creative expression, people can learn how to manage their emotions and navigate the ups and downs that come with processing their trauma.


Art therapy fosters self-awareness by encouraging people to explore their inner thoughts and feelings through various art forms. This skill helps people become more in tune with their emotions, triggers, and reactions related to their trauma, leading to a better understanding of themselves and their healing process.

Stress reduction

Art therapy teaches people how to use art as a tool to reduce stress and anxiety related to their trauma. Engaging in creative activities can help people relax, unwind, and focus on the present moment, ultimately leading to a reduction in stress and tension.

Communication skills

Art therapy enhances people’s communication skills by providing them with alternative ways to express themselves when verbal communication feels challenging or overwhelming. The creative process allows people to convey their thoughts and emotions through art, enabling them to communicate more effectively with others about their trauma experiences.

Resilience building

Art therapy helps people build resilience by empowering them to create meaning and purpose from their trauma experiences. Through art, people can find strength, hope, and a sense of empowerment, ultimately fostering resilience in the face of trauma.

Benefits of art therapy for trauma

Art therapy has been shown to have long-term benefits for people who have experienced trauma. Through the process of creating art, people can explore and express their emotions in a safe and non-verbal way, leading to healing and a sense of empowerment. Over time, working with an art therapist can help people process and cope with their trauma, leading to improved mental health and overall well-being. It provides a lasting outlet for emotional release and self-reflection, promoting healing and resilience.

How quickly does art therapy work for trauma? 

Art therapy can work quickly for people who have experienced trauma. By allowing people to express themselves through creative means, such as drawing or painting, they can process and release difficult emotions. This can lead to a sense of relief and healing for people who have been through difficult experiences.

How is medication used to treat trauma?

Medication can be used to treat trauma by addressing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to help regulate mood and reduce anxiety in people with trauma. Additionally, benzodiazepines may be used for short-term relief of severe anxiety or panic attacks. Some people may also benefit from the use of atypical antipsychotics to help manage symptoms of trauma-related psychosis. It’s important for a person to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage to manage their trauma symptoms effectively.

Other types of treatments for trauma

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of talk therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to trauma. A person works with a therapist to develop healthier coping mechanisms and process their traumatic experiences.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR therapy involves the person using bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tapping, while recalling their traumatic memories. This trauma therapy aims to help the person reprocess their traumatic memories and reduce their emotional distress.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance strategies. It helps a person learn to manage their emotions, improve relationships, and cope with stress in healthier ways after experiencing trauma.

Intensive outpatient program for trauma

Intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) is often used to treat trauma when a person requires more support than traditional outpatient therapy can provide but doesn’t need the level of care offered by inpatient treatment. IOP involves a comprehensive approach to addressing a person’s trauma, including individual and group therapy, psychoeducation, and support from a multidisciplinary team of clinicians. This type of therapy allows people to receive the treatment they need while still being able to continue with their daily lives and responsibilities. Art therapy may also be incorporated into IOP to help people process and express their trauma in a nonverbal way.

Trauma treatment with Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with trauma, 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 trauma. Our expert clinicians incorporate Art therapy into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing trauma is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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