top of page
  • Writer's pictureGenia Young

Online Art Therapy: Possibly the First Virtual Meeting You´ll Actually Look Forward to Attending


Some version of online therapy (also called teletherapy or virtual therapy) has gained popularity as a viable service model, even after social distance mandates have softened. In fact, for many therapists such as myself, this has become the primary way to see clients.

Online therapy has also helped to increase mental health awareness and reduce the stigma of seeking therapy. The traditional office can often be a barrier to potential clients, whether it is its proximity to a medical model of therapy, time limitations, or the public nature of walking into a waiting room. Also, there is a new generation of people for whom getting or sharing information and resources on online platforms is second nature, making the transition to online therapy an easy one.



What exactly is online art therapy?

Online therapy here refers to mental health services provided, via the internet, specifically live chat using a secure video platform. These video sessions require a scheduled appointment and have a similar structure to in-person therapy. They just happen remotely.

Art therapy involves the clinical use of art making, the creative process, and counseling techniques, by a professionally trained art therapist, to enhance a person´s physical, mental and emotional health. You can learn more about art therapy in action at Art therapy does not require participants to have any art experience and people of all ages and abilities can benefit from it.

Gretchen Miller and Alex McDonald (2020) write that the use of computer-assisted technology, online platforms, and telehealth are not a new phenomenon to art therapy. Over the past few decades, more art therapists have introduced technology into their clinical practice including technology based media (ex. digital collage, films, photography) or devices.

Creativity has been a lifeline for many people over the last few years to help with isolation or to just stay sane. Yet, there is a distinction between the benefits of doing art on your own at home and what there is to gain from the guidance of a professional art therapist.

How does online art therapy work?

Art therapy sessions in general are customized to the needs of the client and each art therapist has their own approach. The actual art making may take place during the session or between sessions. It can be very grounding to be active in a therapy session working on something creative. The art therapist organizes art interventions using materials you have available to you.

Art therapy can also be adjunct to other therapies. If you already have a primary therapist, they may recommend you add art therapy to your treatment regimen. Doing it online helps save you time juggling multiple services.

Is online therapy suitable for everyone?

No, but neither is any other treatment method. While online art therapy has its advantages there are things to consider. Whether in-person or remote, it is still important to schedule a consultation with a potential therapist to see if online art therapy is right for you.

Therapy online requires a private and safe location as well as access to a device with reliable internet connection. If this is not possible in your current circumstances, you may not get the full benefit of therapy.


  • Given you have a safe, private space, without intrusions or distractions- participating in therapy from the convenience and comfort of your home may help you relax and engage fully in the process.

  • Eliminating travel can also reduce stress and offer more flexibility in scheduling. The commute can be a barrier for people (ex. caregiving , irregular work schedules, physical limitations), especially if you live in Southern California where when you finally arrive at your destination you spend the next 20 minutes talking about the traffic and what route you took to get there.

  • Between the schedule, location, and commute, you are less likely to miss appointments.

  • Finding your therapist match can be like dating and the dating pool just got bigger. If you are no longer restricted to a specific area, there may be more choices available to you (if you´re someone who gets paralyzed by choice, forget you read that).

  • Meeting online may seem more approachable and relieve any anxieties or stigma attached to therapy or mental health issues.

  • Connecting with an online art therapist may help deal with isolation for those who are homebound (mental or physical limitations).

  • Finally, participating in online art therapy makes it more likely that you will practice the coping skills you learn in session and develop a new creative habit. When you have the experience of maintaining and using your own materials in your physical space, you have ownership over the process and transfer new skills to your everyday life.

How can I make the most of my online art therapy experience?

  • Be mindful of your physical space. Is it private? Is it comfortable? Are you okay with what can be seen in your space?

  • Check your equipment. Do you have the technology necessary to participate in the session with minimal disruptions?

  • Ensure you have the art supplies you need at the start of the session. Ask your therapist for recommendations. Do you have a desk or other flat surface you can use for art making? Are you in a space where clean up is easy?

  • Be thoughtful when you are scheduling your therapy session. Art therapy sessions in your car (parked not moving) or during your lunch time (when you should be eating lunch) are not ideal. Having your head space ready is just as important as your physical space.

  • Speaking of head space, remember this is a professional meeting and for the duration of that meeting your room is the therapy room. Avoid wearing your pajamas or participating in sessions from bed (unless special circumstances dictate otherwise). This will help you be alert, engaged, and receptive to get the full benefits of the experience.

Taking the time to set yourself up properly not only increases the likelihood that you will receive the benefits of art therapy, doing so also sets gentle boundaries around this time because it is for you.

Final Thoughts

One aspect of practicing self-care is being an informed consumer. Feeling comfortable with your therapist and building trust within the therapeutic relationship is essential to both in-person and online art therapy. All the same basic principles of safety (ex. limits of confidentiality, protection of personal health information) apply and should be outlined in the informed consent and disclosure statement. Therapists are bound by state regulations, laws, and ethical guidelines. They can only work with clients who reside in the state in which they are licensed. It´s also important to note that not all insurances will cover online therapy so check first and ask about payment options.

If you are a therapist considering moving your practice online, remember it's more than a change of location. Online art therapy is rewarding,yet it requires a different skill set. It is important to get training and/or additional supervision.

The intention here is not to make an argument for online art therapy over in-person therapy but rather to expand your options if online art therapy is right for you. Online art therapy is part of a greater effort to find ways of making therapy accessible, meaningful, and engaging so that more people get the help that they need (ex. Walk-and-Talk therapy, Ecotherapy)

If you are considering art therapy (in-person or online) your creative journey has begun. You are already thinking of new and innovative ways to grow in your understanding of your needs.

An Invitation

Want to know what an online art therapy session would be like with me? Visit my page, and contact me to schedule a free consultation, no commitment or obligation. I love talking about my work and meeting new people. At the very least I hope you will walk away from our conversation with further clarity about your next steps.


Genia Young is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Board Certified Art Therapist and Certified Art Therapy Supervisor in southern California. For more information about individual art therapy services, art-based clinical supervision or creative coaching, visit to schedule your free consultation.

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page