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Art therapy or Creative Journaling?

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17 December 2021  |  Echoes on Creative Journaling

What is the difference between art therapy and Creative Journaling? 

I’m often asked about the difference between art therapy and Creative Journaling.  To my mind, there are many!  I will try to succinctly define their main features.

The framework: This is undoubtedly the main difference: Creative Journaling is done outside of a therapeutic setting without the intervention of an art therapist to accompany you in your process.  While there are many therapeutic benefits to a Creative Journaling practice,  it falls under the umbrella of personal development.  It’s a practice in which you work alone in your journal.

Stated objectives: When I consult with an art therapist, my goal is primarily therapeutic in nature with a view to feeling better or achieving a specific goal.  While I may also use my Creative Journal to feel better, I might also simply wish to vent in private, to relax, to make better decisions, to try out new techniques, etc.

Support: In art therapy, we usually work on large surfaces or loose sheets.  In Creative Journaling, we work in a spiral bound journal. The format is therefore contained and the pages I create appear in chronological order.

Art mediums:  In art therapy, paint and clay are often used,  and the work is done on large surfaces that offer more open-ended explorations. In Creative Journaling, working in a journal favours the use of dry mediums and places more emphasis on the written word, a practice which is not typically part of art therapy.

Exploring creative works: In art therapy, our creations are discussed with, and informed by, the art therapist, while in Creative Journaling, we explore and analyse our work on our own.

Group Workshops: Because art therapy workshops have therapeutic objectives, verbal exchanges play a prominent role.  In Creative Journaling, the goal is mainly pedagogic so a variety of themes and techniques are explored and verbal interaction is generally freer and of a shorter duration.

Overall, it can be said that the Creative Journal is a personal development tool to connect to self while art therapy is a therapeutic process which takes place within a therapeutic setting. While we use certain aspects of art therapy in our creative journal, the process as a whole is different.

To conclude, I’d like to underline that while my studies in art therapy have greatly influenced the way I use art in my personal journal,  both creative and introspective writing have also contributed much to my artistic expression.  This combination is extremely vibrant!  And now, it’s your turn to experience it!

Anne-Marie Jobin 

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