top of page

Art as healing


The discovery of the "medical" art

Art has always rocked humanity and continues to make it travel through songs, Egyptian music of yesteryear with healing virtues, the sounds of Taoist medicine to relieve body and mind, through cave paintings providing magical resources, plays with cathartic virtues or photographs taken around the world. Moreover, the popular proverb “music softens morals would come to us from the writings of Plato who noticed its educational and soothing effects.

Art has never ceased to heal its creator throughout the history of mankind, as the psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung also writes in his book “Psychological Healing”. Music therapy "literally music therapy" is a component of art therapy that arrived in the West during the Second World War to relieve the physical and psychological pain and trauma of wounded soldiers.  As early as 1954, Jacques Jost, sound engineer, posed the hypothesis that music can heal, and tested this influence for 18 years with patients.


Art as therapy goes through different psychological currents before breaking free from this sphere in the 1970s   through a creative process described by Jung, encouraging the creator to beresponsible for his own journey.

"Art as a process of personal development"


Today, art therapy is aimed at all types of people ina process of personal development, to know oneselfwithout going through a psychoanalysis or to heal the wounds of soul and body. Art therapy recreates imaginary forms of "oneself" in a process of creation, which gradually provokesthe transformation of the creative subject, indicating to him the meaning in order to transform "his evils" into light and to be the subject of his destiny. Art therapy is practiced in private practice, clinic or hospital, institution, association, group of therapists.

The art therapist determines the therapeutic path from the anamnesis of the beneficiary and adjusts it during assessments in consultation with him; it establishes a reassuring, benevolent and confidential framework.

He helps him to express his creativity and to translate his language into avenues of exploration, which will become his awareness and transformations. It supports him to find his way through his own voice as well (for music therapists).

"Art therapy put to the test of scientific studies"


According to the latest report published in November 2019 by the World Health Organization¹,based on a meta-result of900 studies (including 3000 reviewed), the WHO gives the letters of nobility to art therapies by classifying them as complementary medicine (and no longer alternative) and real supportive care to conventional medicine.  It identifies active practice or passive of the arts as having a major role in the prevention of ill health, the promotion of health, the care and treatment of illness at all stages of life, in particular for:

Support for the healthy development of the child, in case of mental illness or neurological disorder, for the experience and the results of the patients in intensive care by also improving the understanding of health and clinical skills; by fighting against cognitive decline and supporting the end of life. Art therapies improve the well-being and health of beneficiaries in general.


Another report on the effectiveness of art therapy²published in 2000, already reported its positive effects in self-awarenessAndrebuilding self-esteem. This was confirmed by a study conducted in 2005 by Hartz and Thick³.

A more recent report⁴ on the effectiveness of art therapy highlights its benefits inthe management of emotions.

Two other recent studies⁵ ⁶ point out that the practice of art therapyreinforces positive feelings,relieved distress, painand helps clarify existential questions.

In the context of burnout, we can also cite three specific studies:

 La première⁷ focuses on professionals in the palliative sector and demonstrates that an approach to support these professionals through artistic mediation toprevent burnoutis effective on the three symptomatic dimensions of burnout, namely exhaustion, depersonalization and the feeling of inefficiency. Participants also show a significant increase in their ability to observe their thoughts and feelings.

- The second⁸, devoted to nurses in an oncology department, also shows that art therapy is effective in improving the three major symptomatic manifestations of burnout among staff.

- The third⁹, devoted to employees, suggests that art therapy is a preventive approach that allows people to understand stress, manage their anxietyand find appropriate ways to cope with stress.

  1. The Health Evidence Network (HEN) synthesis report on arts and health maps the world's academic literature on this topic in English and Russian. It references over 900 publications, including 200 reviews, covering over 3000 other studies. As such, the report represents the most comprehensive review of the evidence on arts and health to date.

  2. Reynolds, Nabors, and Quinlan (2000) The effectiveness of art therapy: Does it work? Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 17(3), 207–213.

  3. Hartz & Thick (2005). Art therapy strategies to raise self-esteem. Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22(2), 70–80.

  4. Slayton, D'Archer, and Kaplan (2010) Outcome Studies on the Efficacy of Art Therapy: A Review of Findings. Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 27(3) pp. 108-118

  5. Gabriel & al (2001). Art therapy with adult bone marrow transplant patients in isolation: a pilot study. Psycho-Oncology Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 114–123

  6. Rhondali W, et al. Art therapy in palliative care: a qualitative study. Palliative medicine — Supportive care — Accompaniment — Ethics (2013),

  7. Potash & al (2013). Art Therapy Approach to Burnout Reduction for Hospice and Palliative Care Workers

  8. Italy & al. (2008). Evaluation and art therapy treatment of the burnout syndrome in oncology units. Psycho-Oncology, 17(7), 676-680.

  9. Arija Bake & al. (2010). Effects of art therapy on stress and anxiety of employees. Proceedings of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, Sect. B, Vol. 64.

bottom of page