What's the difference?
Art as therapy, or art instruction, allows you to learn artistic techniques, colour and value theory as well as hone your fine motor skills and attention to detail. These instructions are delivered to you in many forms, such as booklets / pdfs, videos, demonstrations, presentations and in-person or skype classes.
As in all education, a person learns at an individual pace. The instructor is there to make sure the instructions on how to complete a piece remain challenging enough to engage but not so overwhelming as to be frustrating. From beginner to advanced, a good instructor should work with you to train your "artistic eye"; ensuring that you master basic techniques before moving on to more complex concepts. The instructor will assist you in creative problem solving for such areas as technique or colour management. This will eventually result in a finished product.
Creating art should be fun and rewarding, yet learning to challenge yourself can also be intimidating. Art instruction allows you to experiment and explore within the domain of traditional techniques.
Art therapy is client-centered.
This means you (not the therapist) are in control of what art materials you use and the concepts you create. There is no need to be “good” at art techniques in order to take part. In fact, there are no traditional techniques as such - you simply create how you feel and what you think at the moment. Artworks range from fully formed pictures to basic lines and colours scribbled on a page. There is no pressure to produce a finished product at the end of the session. The therapist is there to help guide you in "decoding" your work. Art therapy is a non-verbal method to make sense of the world around us. This makes it ideal for people who can’t find the words to express themselves.