Art therapy involves the use of visual arts to express emotions, communicate with others, build self-esteem and learn what is important to you. It is a type of expressive art therapy.

In an art therapy class, you usually choose what kind of art you want to do: painting, collage and working with clay are examples. The kind of art available may depend on where you take your class and what your studio or therapist offers.

How art therapy works

Art therapists conduct classes in different ways, so you may wish to try a few before choosing a therapist that suits you best. Some therapists guide the class through projects, while others give the class freedom to create whatever they want. There are different ways to get art therapy:

  • private art therapy, which involves only you and the instructor.
  • a class only for people with breast cancer, or one that is open to people with all kinds of cancer.
  • a class with a professional therapist trained in cancer counseling. These sessions may be more structured than open art therapy classes, and the teacher may be more involved in your healing.

Some centers may offer your family and caregivers the chance to take part in art therapy with you. If this interests you, ask if it is an option. Sharing the experience with those closest to you may be a good way to bond while sharing your feelings through art. It may also help your caregivers express their feelings.

If your cancer center or local community doesn’t offer art therapy, you could consider taking an art class at a nearby community center, community college or with a private teacher. Simply enjoying art can be a great source of comfort and a way of relieving stress or worry.

What art therapy costs

The cost of art therapy will vary based on rates set by the practitioner, where you live, and the type of session (group vs. individual). Some health insurance plans may cover part of all of the cost of art therapy although there is no standard for whether art therapy, as with most complementary therapies, is covered by health insurance. Contact your insurance provider so that a plan representative can help you understand your benefits.