All art making can be thought of as therapeutic, but not all art making is art therapy!
Self care is all about lowering stress levels for better personal well being. This can involve art making, but it also might involve other relaxing activities. In fact, some people think art making adds to their stress - it's important to realize that everyone is different with their own approaches to stress management. While some may feel that activities like colouring, doodling and paint nights are frustrating or anxiety provoking, others get a great deal of personal satisfaction out of these types of pursuits.
Teaching art is about learning skills and acquiring techniques with specific art materials. Art is taught by an artist or qualified art teacher. As a student, it is customary to wait for the teacher to give step-by-step instruction before starting with the art project. At the end of the class, everyone will have learned the same skill sets and have completed the same project - the product here being most important.
Recreation therapy uses art projects as a purely recreational activity for those with physical or mental health issues. Even though the project and instructions are the same, the process may be different for each particular client – depending on their needs.
Art therapy is all about art making to achieve personal mental wellness. Art therapy sessions are facilitated by a qualified psychotherapist who has trained at the masters' level (minimum) at an accredited art therapy institution. Although open ended directives are sometimes presented, you decide what to create and how to use the materials. This is usually followed by a therapeutic dialogue, where, guided by the therapist's reflective questions, you can explore the artwork and your personal creative process.