Emily Lubbe struggled through her teens with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, prompting visits to a number of therapists and doctors. Now she is experimenting with painting as therapy.

Lubbe was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder at the age of 11, depression at 13 and obsessive compulsive disorder at 17. 

Art therapy uses painting, drawing, sculpture and more to treat mental health issues. Art therapy allows creative expression to help some with mental well being and fosters healing. 

“I know what art therapy is, I’ve heard of it but I’ve never done it myself.” Lubbe said. 

Lubbe was given supplies for painting and let her creativity run to express how she was feeling in that moment. She painted for 20 minutes allowing whatever came to mind to flow out onto the canvas. 

“It was an interesting experience, because I’ve never actually shown someone how I was feeling.” Lubbe said.

Art therapy is a professional practice that is widely success when facilitated by a trained professional.

She said she’s used to telling someone such as her therapist how she is feeling during their sessions so in the beginning she didn’t know where to start. She felt that art was a good way to express her feelings in a way that didn’t involve using words. 

Art therapy allows people to take the issues that they are struggling with and put them on a canvas.

Saint Joseph’s University offers an elective course as well as a minor in art therapy. In the art therapy course students explore theories and models of art therapy. With the help of sharing experiences, readings and art therapy activities students are able to get a deeper understanding of how art can be used to help people who struggle with mental health.

“If I were to do it again I would probably want to go with a little more flexible topic or like instructions.” Lubbe said.

Though this was not done in a professional setting traditional protocols were followed. Using the prompt “paint a mountain and a valley. The mountain can represent a time where you were happy, the valley, when you were sad.(The Guest House)

During her experience Lubbe said it required her to think a lot more than she initially expected. She struggled a little with what she wanted to express on her canvas. With more structure she thinks she would enjoy art therapy a lot more in a mental health practice.

Art therapy is a new and ever evolving form of therapy that has been helping students deal with the stresses of college life and more serious mental illnesses.