7 Art Therapy Projects You Can do to Help You Recover from Your Mental Illness ...


7 Art Therapy Projects You Can do to Help You Recover from Your Mental Illness ...
7 Art Therapy Projects You Can do to Help You Recover from Your Mental Illness ...

I used various art therapy projects to help me recover from my mental illness and was grateful to have done them. Art therapy is one way of expressing yourself in a way that words cannot. These art therapy projects are all things you could do at home and discuss with your therapist afterwards. I hope they help you work on getting healthy.

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Shoe Box

All you need for this art therapy project is a shoe box and various ways to decorate it. Design the outside with how you think people view you. For me, the outside of my box was full of quotes and candy wrappers, activities I did and pictures with friends. Then, you design the inside of the box based on how you feel, or the part of you that no one really sees. The inside of mine was rougher around the edges and not cute and fuzzy like the outside. The goal of this art therapy project is to notice the difference between who you present yourself as to the world and who you actually are. You can work with your therapist to make the two more synchronized so that who you present yourself as is authentic to who you actually are.


Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses creative processes such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and other forms of creative expression to help people who are struggling with mental illness. This project is a great way to start exploring your inner self and understanding the difference between who you present yourself as to the world and who you actually are.

The shoe box project is a simple and effective way to explore these two sides of yourself. All you need is a shoe box and various ways to decorate it. The outside of the box should represent how you think people view you. This can include quotes, candy wrappers, activities you do, and pictures with friends. The inside of the box should represent how you feel, or the part of you that no one really sees. This can be rougher around the edges and not as cute and fuzzy as the outside.

The goal of this art therapy project is to recognize the difference between the two sides of yourself and work with a therapist to make them more synchronized. This will help you to present yourself authentically to the world.


Trash Can

When it comes to the distortions and belittling thoughts that play on repeat in your mind, it’s important to trash them because they are not doing anything to help you grow as a person. Draw a trash can and start to write phrases, shapes or images that you want to get rid of. I struggled with an eating disorder so some of my phrases related to self-worth and weight. Whatever it is you struggle with, trash it. It can provide some release, especially for pent-up feelings.


Your Name

Struggling with a mental illness can make you feel like you don’t have an identity. I know for years I would identify myself more with my diagnosis and my situation than who I am and what I stand for. This art therapy project is rather simple. Design your name to reflect yourself. For example, you make the dot on your “i” a shamrock if you are Irish and are proud of that heritage. After you design your name for yourself, draw your name with a close friend in mind, tailoring the art to who they are. When I did this activity, I noticed the difference between my friend and I because the way both of the drawings came out, it was clear who was who. It’s a great way to notice what makes you special.


This personalized art therapy project emphasizes self-expression and identity beyond the bounds of mental health struggles. It's a creative reminder of your unique qualities and the distinct elements that comprise your personality. By incorporating symbols or designs that resonate with your heritage, aspirations, or passions, you're not just crafting art, you're depicting the mosaic of your individuality. Moreover, visualizing a friend's name through their lens fosters empathy and a deeper understanding of their essence. Each stroke becomes a conversation about differences and shared traits, weaving a tapestry of personal connections and self-discovery.



Do you feel like you are putting on a mask that keeps you from being your authentic self? I know I did. This art therapy project consists of decorating a mask to represent that face you put on to the world. My mask was matted in newspaper because I would always tell stories to distract people from what was really going on. What does your mask look like?


You can use colors, textures, and materials that speak to how you feel inside, contrasting against how you appear to the outside world. Then, when you’ve finished your mask, reflect on it. Does it reveal truths you’ve hidden even from yourself? Or does it confront the façade you’re presenting to others? Remember, this mask is a safe space to express facets of your personality you might not be ready to show openly. The process of creating it can be as enlightening as sharing the finished piece with someone you trust.



It’s taken me years of recovery to realize that I am not broken but a beautiful mosaic of experiences. Consider making a mosaic yourself. Whether you choose to do it to create a plate or coaster, keep in mind you can also do one on paper. Cut out construction paper and write what each piece stands for. You could make a mosaic using those and magazine quotes and pictures, what have you. The focus should be on who you are, what you stand for, who is rooting for you to stay strong and what you enjoy doing. These should be elements that piece together your life and strengthen your recovery.


The article discusses the benefits of art therapy in helping individuals recover from mental illness. It suggests creating a mosaic as a therapeutic activity, either by using physical materials like construction paper or by cutting out quotes and pictures from magazines. The focus should be on representing one's identity, values, support system, and hobbies. This project can serve as a reminder of one's strength and progress in recovery. Art therapy has been shown to improve self-expression, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase self-esteem, making it a valuable tool for those struggling with mental illness.


Self-Care Box

Whether you struggle from an eating disorder, self-harm, depression or other mental illnesses, take the time to make a self-care box. This is something you can pull out when needed to help you release your feelings in a healthy way, redirect your behaviors to self-care not self-destruction and relax. Include tissues, hand lotion, a picture of a baby animal that will make you smile, quotes that inspire you, a list of distractions you can do, nail polish and anything else that works for you. Decorating the outside also makes it your own. The outside of my box reads “stay strong, stay beautiful, stay lovely.”


Visual Diary

If you have never been big into writing in a journal each night, I understand. It’s not for everyone. Have you ever considered making a visual diary? You can take a journal-size sketch book and each day draw whatever it is you want to express for that day. It’s a great way to express yourself through art if you can’t through words. Each page may vary from collages to markers to nail polish to actively ripping out the page. It’s your diary so do with it what you want. Let it be an outlet to express yourself.

Art therapy can help you recover from your mental illness when it seems like there are no words to describe how you feel. The key is to complete the activities and take the time to look back to reflect on them. How has art therapy affected your recovery?

Feedback Junction

Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

Thank you. I have a friend who is really struggling I hope these help her

Really great ideas

Great article, i'm definitely going to try some of these and share them with my psychologist :) thank you so much

love these forms of therapy

the self care box is my favorite

Thank you so much for this helpful post! I have a extreme case of anxiety and OCD so I am very eager to try these thing out!

I'm going to try and do this with my sister because she has depression and has trouble admitting how she feels. The self care box would be good for her I think.

Thank you for these ...

love this one diff going to try some of theses ideas

These are amazing I have never heard of art therapy!

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