Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making Whole: Art Therapy Process: Mandala

by Diane Steinbach 

Welcome to our first Making Whole Column. This will be a bi monthly column focusing on art therapy to help heal inner trauma or promote healing and personal growth. As an art therapist I have helped people connect with art medium to  express themselves for decades and our hope is that you can use it in your own personal way for healing, relaxation or to help work through stress. As time goes on all the Making Whole posts will be gathered together on a separate Page for easy reference.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “completion” and has been part of artistic expression in many cultures for hundreds of years. Considered  a valuable  tool by some of the very founders of Psychology like Carl Jung, the use of the Mandala as a path towards healing and a means of reflecting our own inner thoughts and nature make it  ideal  to use in art therapy.

The Mandala is basically a circle with artwork contained within. A perfect way to provide structure to a basically unstructured, guided art process; Mandala can be used over and over again to help work through inner thoughts and feelings.

Begin by drawing a large circle on a piece of paper.  Begin thinking about your path, your journey through life thus far or however you are feeling at the moment.  Use colors and lines within the circle to represent your inner soul, your inner thoughts, chaotic or organized, the mix of happiness, relief, guilt or remorse you might feel.  Anything you do is acceptable. Divide your Mandala into parts to represent different aspects of your emotions if you want.  Just follow your instincts and create in a free and unplanned way. Whatever you are feeling at the moment will guide your Mandala.

Your Mandala can be done with paints, crayons, and markers, anything that allows you to create in color freely and easily. You should create in a relaxed state or in the hopes of expressing whatever emotions you may be experiencing at the moment. By placing your images and thoughts into the Mandala you can release them from your own mind and lower your bodies stress and anxiety levels.

Once you have completed your Mandala look at the colors, shapes, use of lines and overall effect of your work. Write down any connections you feel between the emotions and thoughts you were feeling or thinking while creating your Mandala. The insights you gain can further help you towards your journey of healing.

Keep a Mandala journal, where you can “doodle” into the familiar circular form anytime you feel uneasy, anxious or upset. 

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Gerlinde Hog-Aden


  1. Dear Diane,

    I love your post and am so delighted to meet you! I have experienced the healing effects of art therapy in my own life and I think the work you are doing is awesome!

    I look forward to exploring your blog and invite you to share this post at Inspire Me Monday at

    Create With Joy

  2. Thank you so much for your comment! I will check out your site!

  3. Congrats Diane - your post has been featured at Inspire Me Monday at

    Create With Joy

    I can't wait to read the rest of your series and hope you will share them with us! :-)

  4. This is great! I have used art or other creative projects to deal with stress for years. The last 2 years have been overly stressful and I know I would not have survived them intact if it wasn't for my art and a great therapist . so glad to see this post :0)

  5. I came here through Inspire Me Monday - not realizing that you had done the article! Great work Diane - makes me proud that you are both my sister and an ATA Girl!

  6. Thanks one and all, glad you are enjoying this post and look forward to the next edition coming on the 20th!


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