Art Therapy: How Art Can Help With Chronic Pain

Art therapy, regardless of your artistic ability, has been shown to have a positive impact on those living with chronic pain. According to Dr. Peter Abaci, a pain specialist out of California, "the act of drawing, sculpting and other forms of art can be a mirror that allows you to see inside yourself and recognize and release hidden emotions that may be contributing to your pain." While many find art therapy to be most powerful in a group setting with a trained art therapist (you can find one near you at arttherapy.org), there are some projects you can do on your own to get the benefits. 


The Mask

This project is particularly effective for those living with hidden disabilities

What you need: A paper mask that covers from chin to hair line with eye holes; paint or markers

Task: Color the outside to represent the way you think others see you. Color the inside as you see yourself

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The Bridge

What you need: A large sheet of paper; paint or markers

Task: Think about what your life looks like now and draw what it's like using colors, shapes or any details on one side of the paper. Next, at the other end of the paper, leaving room in the middle, draw what you see yourself doing in the future or what you'd like to bring into your life. Lastly, draw a bridge between the present and the future and put yourself on this bridge.

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The Mandala

Throughout history, mandalas have been used to create spiritual energy, speed healing and assist in meditation.

What you need: Paper, pen or pencil, markers or paint

Task: Draw a large circle using a pen or pencil. Fill in the circle with whatever comes to mind. It can be images, shapes, patterns; it's okay if it spills outside the circle or if the circle isn't completely full. 

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To learn more about art therapy or other integrative tools to manage your pain, you can check out Dr. Peter Abaci's book Conquer Your Chronic Pain.