Art as Therapy: Self-Expression and Special Needs in Art Education

Concept by
Marta Mandolini

Table of Contents


Art-related activities are powerful means of personal development, among young students and across their life span. Art has strong therapeutic power and is strictly connected to our body: art activities can influence blood pressure and breathing. Art also promotes self-esteem and self-expression, empathy, self-knowledge and self-regulation, time and space management skills.

Art facilitates mental and emotional growth. As a matter of fact, it can be a great tool to promote integration and communication among students, especially the ones affected by autism, attention deficit disorders, learning disabilities, etc. 

The course aims to present the therapeutic power of Visual Arts through first-hand experimentation of various art techniques such as painting, 3D, collage, mixed media, photography. In addition, teachers will be involved in the group and role-playing activities related to the important role of art in the case of students with special needs.

We will not delve fully into the real therapeutic context, but we will definitely create a secure environment where you can experiment with the therapeutic power of art and learn how to properly respond to your students’ needs and requests.

Participants will be involved in an active learning process, focusing on personal experience and self-expression, combining cognitive and emotional elements to ensure long-lasting retention of new knowledge.

Learning outcomes

The course will help the participants to understand how to: 

  • Utilize the strong therapeutic power of art to promote wellbeing, empathy, as well as personal and professional development; 
  • Learn how art therapy can promote mental and emotional growth through art making in special needs education and in general; 
  • Understand how to use art as a tool to promote integration among students and serve as a special means of communication; 
  • Experiment with art techniques to find the relevant role of art for a positive/effective teacher-student relationship.

Tentative schedule

Day 1 – Course introduction & team building

Course introduction

  • Introduction to the course, the school, and the external week activities;
  • Icebreaker activities using drama for trust and ensemble building;
  • Identification of needs and goals for each participant and relevant populations.

Fundamentals in art therapy

  • Fundamentals in Art Therapy: history and core values;
  • Slides presentations, case studies and individual practical activities: “My approach to art.”
  • Presentations of the participants’ schools.

Day 2 – Art and wellbeing

  • Art and Health;
  • How art can enhance our emotional and spiritual wellbeing;
  • Body-related evidence of art’s therapeutic power;
  • Individual and group practical activities: intuitive drawing.

Day 3 – Art and personal development

  • Art and personal growth;
  • Self-knowledge and self-regulation, time and space management skills;
  • Individual and group practical activities: intuitive painting.

Day 4 – Art through perspective

  • Art as a perspective: self-expression, empathy and acceptance of the other;
  • Individual practical activities: photography and 3D.

Day 5 – Art as therapy

  • Art therapy in education: students with special needs;
  • Slides presentation and focus group.

Day 6 – Course closure & excursion

  • Course evaluation: round up of acquired competences, feedback, and discussion;
  • Awarding of the course Certificate of Attendance;
  • Excursion and other external cultural activities.

Book Your Session

= confirmed date / = fully booked

OID: E10166501

*Early Bird: valid if you register at least 8 weeks before the course starts, and pay within payment deadlines

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Reviews about this course

It was a very interesting experience. All materials were tailored to us and our needs. The course was creative, inspiring, interesting, and fun. After each day of active participation in the workshops, I felt better and more fulfilled.

Sandra Turina Miočić

This course offers knowledge of the strong therapeutic power of art, mental and emotional growth using special techniques such as painting, 3D, collage, mixed media and photography. The participants were strongly involved in the learning process and even experienced art therapy outdoors.

Marija Matijevic

Pleasant learning experience, very friendly teacher, and helpful staff. I am grateful for getting an opportunity like this and thankful that there are organizations like Europass that make it possible.  I had a great time and I would certainly give it a go again whenever I get the chance!

Marie-José Dings