Art Therapy and ADHD by Shanah Michele

Harnessing Creativity for Focus and Calm

In today’s fast-paced world, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a prevalent and often misunderstood condition. Those living with ADHD face daily challenges, such as maintaining focus, controlling impulses, and managing varied emotions. Holistic approaches like art therapy provide innovative solutions by integrating creativity with therapeutic techniques, offering significant benefits for those affected by ADHD.

The Transformative Role of Art in ADHD Management

Art therapy is particularly valuable for individuals with ADHD, as it harnesses the therapeutic power of creativity to enhance cognitive function and emotional well-being. This form of therapy engages both the mind and body, promoting relaxation, focus, and self-expression in a non-judgmental setting.

Stimulating Focus and Cognitive Engagement

Creating art can help individuals with ADHD improve their concentration and attention to detail. The structured yet creative nature of art projects allows them to engage in a task with a clear focus, reducing distractibility.

Calming Effects through Artistic Expression

Art-making involves physical actions and sensory experiences that can have a calming effect. Activities like painting or sculpting engage the hands and mind, directing energy into productive and soothing tasks.

Enhancing Emotional Regulation

Art therapy provides a visual language for feelings and experiences that might be difficult to express verbally. This expression helps individuals with ADHD explore and manage their emotions in constructive ways.

Incorporating Science into Practice

Dr. Susan Magsamen, the author of Your Brain on Art, highlights the profound impact of art on neurological functions. She notes, “Art has the power to change our brain patterns and the very fibre of our emotional makeup.”

Furthermore, renowned art therapist Cathy Malchiodi offers insights into the scientific benefits of art therapy for ADHD. According to Malchiodi, art therapy not only reduces symptoms of distress but also “enhances brain functions related to reward, pleasure, and emotional regulation.”

Art Therapy Exercise: Zentangle Art

Zentangle art, a modern and meditative form of pattern drawing, is an excellent exercise for individuals with ADHD. It combines concentration with creativity, resulting in intricate designs that are both calming and rewarding.

Materials Needed:

– Square tiles of white paper (3.5 inches x 3.5 inches or 8.89cm by 8.89cm)

– Fine-tip black pens

– Pencil


1. Relax and Centre: Begin by taking several deep breaths to center yourself. Use gentle background music if helpful.

2. Create a Border: Lightly pencil a border on your tile. Within this border, draw a light, freeform shape called a “string,” which will become the framework for your patterns.

3. Draw Tangles: Using the black pen, fill each section of your string with different ‘tangles’ or patterns. Focus on the process of drawing each stroke, letting your creativity flow freely.

4. Shade and Reflect: After inking your tangles, use the pencil to add shading to your tile, which enhances depth and contrast. Reflect on the experience, noticing any shifts in your focus or mood.

5. Regular Practice: Incorporate Zentangle art into your routine. Each session builds focus and mindfulness, making it a perfect daily practice for managing ADHD.

This exercise is not only therapeutic but also produces beautiful results, reinforcing the rewards of sustained attention and effort.

Final Thoughts

As we integrate art therapy into our strategies at Mind Body Education, we open doors to innovative practices, and techniques that resonate with the needs and potentials of our ADHD community. The blend of creativity, science, and therapeutic insight makes art therapy a compelling component of holistic wellness strategies, fostering growth and healing across cognitive and emotional domains.

Become a qualified Holistic Art Therapist! If you would like a career that combines personal growth, personal freedom, creative expression, financial stability, and the chance to make a positive impact in the world, by helping others live happier and healthier lives the Mind Body Education, Master Practitioner of Holistic Art Therapy training program is for you. 

The industry accredited training course can be completed Online anywhere in the world, Enrol now and commence May 29 2024;

Online program:

Or if your interested in our on-Campus option our next intake is July 12th 2024On-Campus program:
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Find out more about our internationally industry accredited and award-winning programs at:

Isabelle Cunningham

Isabelle is the founder of Mind Body Education, a global education network that provides award-winning, industry-approved, evidence-based training programs in holistic well-being therapies.

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