Can AI Art be Used For Art Therapy?

Futuristic Steampunk Power Plant by u/MacHatter on NightCafe Studio

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Sometimes we need a way to get our thoughts out into the world, but many of us don't have the skills or way to do it.

AI-generated art has been a growing trend in recent years. It's often linked to things like NFTs and deep fakes. But, there is one way of using AI art that goes unnoticed - it's surprisingly therapeutic.

It's no secret that expressing yourself in healthy ways can help with depression, stress, and other mental health conditions. Now, an easy way to create is a quick Google search away. That's a huge plus when it comes to AI Art as a form of therapy - it's so easy to start.

Alien Spaceships, generated by u/MacHatter on NightCafe Studio

Many will say it's a definite form of art therapy.

AI promptist and NightCafe AI artist MacHatter (AKA Mark) will say the same thing, and proudly. Read on to learn about why he sees AI art as one of the healthiest ways to self-soothe and heal.

"...For me... it's the instant gratification, the ability to get an outlet of whatever craziness is going on in my head at any given time."

He continues, "There is no waiting on meds to kick in, or a doctors appointment, or even any self regulation which involves long time scales... These things are time restrictive. A lot of the time when I have a melt down I'm too angry, stressed, agitated and/or frustrated to self regulate, so being able to sit down and just type what's going on in my head and getting an almost instant visual feedback is great."

Mark is not alone with his mental health ailments. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with a mental illness.

One of the goals of art therapy is to delve into your inner thoughts and emotions as part of a creative process. In the context of AI (artificial intelligence)- assisted art therapy, that might be as simple as writing down some of the things you feel in a 'text prompt' for the AI, a thought MacHatter echoes below.

A magical tree emerging from within a closed magical leather book, AI generated art by u/MacHatter

"I get instant feedback which has a level of uncertainty and unpredictability which is great as sometimes, when I'm extremely angry, I can get hilarious feedback from my 'angry man' prompt and I can go from angry to laughing my head off almost instantly..."

"Getting the constant stream of thoughts out of my head is immensely helpful, relaxing and works as a de-stressor."

He goes on, "When I'm feeling self destructive, alone, worthless, full of guilt/shame (or any of the other plethora of negative emotions that plague me frequently), I can use AI art to get these destructive images out of my head, which allows me to change my focused thought patterns and allows me to not go too deep where it gets dark and scary."

Of course, prompt writing isn't the only way to get the therapeutic benefits from AI art. Many people simply like to see beautiful artworks and get a thrill - even a sense of pride - from the fact that they created it, something they couldn't have done before.

This is a sentiment Mark echoes, saying "I tried to learn how to draw when I was a teenager... After sometime, I gave up. Now, 35 years later, I have been buying art books, recently bought an Acrylic Art set, and love researching different artists, art styles and even photography to try and get my AI art skills (Prompter/Artist Prompter/Ai Art Prompter - who knows) up to somewhere i can be proud of."

A stunningly Beautiful Sci-fi Landscape by u/MacHatter 

Does your mental health benefit from using AI art?

We're interested to know what creative tools, AI or not, you've been using to help heal yourself. Let’s uplift each other with our stories down in the comment section, and we hope to see you as a fellow creator on NightCafe Studio!

More information on MacHatter...

Mark is always looking for people to work with (or just chat to about mental health and AI art). To connect with him, head to his website at www.machatter.studio or chat with him in his Discord server, Machatter's Tea Party!.

You can also find him on Instagram at @machatter_ai and on Twitter at @MachatterAi.

1 comment

  • Hi Mark,

    I think you have it better in the USA as far as the health service is concerned. I believe 2.5% budget in health care settings has been legislated for a the arts, for a good number of years. To a lesser extent in other countries. But unfortunately not at all in the UK. I also believe the general population in your country is more appreciative of art and Artists than here.

    My original intention after graduating was to become a Registered arts therapist which was another 2 years post grad study for my Masters. However the year I graduated was the same year the Government and NHS stopped the bursaries for Art Therapists. So I have had to go it alone, relying on charity. Where the pay is poor, and i’m constantly looking for funding for my activities. But I love what i do. Currently I run an open session every Monday, where my client base can come whenever it pleases them. So its a joint session. Where i can get anything from 20 to 30 people per session., and here’s the thing. everyone that comes is different, with different needs and abilities, as well as mental health, as well as physical health problems too.

    We don’t judge either clients or their abilities. When it comes to art, I can be like a kid in a sweetie shop. I want to have a go at everything. I also encourage my clients to do the same. So can you consider A.I. Art as therapeutic? without a doubt in my mind. all art is therapeutic. and not just to those creating it. But also to those viewing it. Even if they don’t understand it. Which is quite often the case in our modern times. Most people being left brain thinkers, struggle with right brain concepts. especially our intellectuals and scientists.

    But as the old saying goes, a Picture paints a thousand words. But i’m sure you’ll agree it goes far beyond that. As far as i’m concerned, when you create art. its for the benefit of all humanity now and for the future.

    There are some people saying A.I Art will be the death nell for artists, I disagree, its another tool in out studios, lets not forget other artforms from literature. I haven’t tried yet, but what would Dalle-2, Stable Diffusion and others make of poetry? has it even been considered by the programmers?

    a final note. keep at it, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Some of my early Dalle images weren’t that good artistically. however they have proved to be inspiration for other works. either paintings, or lino-cut prints or silk screen prints. Who knows what the future will bring?

    Colin Bentham

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