February 26, 2024


Mattel’s Barbie brand just launched its first mental health career—and they chose to show Barbie as an art therapist! AATA hopes Art Therapy Barbie will inspire the next generation of art therapists and mental health professionals.


The Art Therapy Barbie Playset comes with a Barbie art therapist doll and a smaller client doll who has a unique feature: kids can rotate the emoji on the small doll’s shirt to help express her emotions.

A total of 10 accessories, including a kitten, art supplies, and mood stickers can be used to engage imaginations in storytelling and role-play and to allow kids to explore careers in mental health.


If You are Wondering What Exactly Art Therapy is, Here are 7 Things to Know About the Field:


Art therapy is a regulated mental health profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, the creative process, and applied psychological theory—within a psychotherapeutic relationship.


When people are struggling or facing a health crisis or other challenge—their own words or language may fail them. During these times, an art therapist can help their clients express themselves in ways beyond words or language.


Art therapists are trained in art and psychological theory and can help clients integrate nonverbal cues and metaphors that are often expressed through the creative process. They hold Masters-level or higher degrees and have the credentials ATR (registered art therapist) or ATR–BC (board certified, registered art therapist).


While Art Therapy Barbie is paired with young Chelsea, her client, art therapists work with individuals of all ages. They assist people in health crises like cancer; military service members experiencing PTSD; older adults with dementia; and anyone seeking support through life’s challenges. And of course, art therapists work with children, including those experiencing anxiety, behavioral challenges, eating disorders, or anything that may make life seem overwhelming.


Art Therapy Barbie works in a private studio with a bean bag! But you can find art therapists in all kinds of different settings: from medical institutions like hospitals, to wellness centers and schools. Art therapists also work in community settings like museums or volunteer after a disaster or traumatic event.


For art therapy, you don’t need to be “good” at making art. In fact, you don’t even have to be “artsy.” Everyone is creative—just think back to when you made art when you were younger!


Art-making encourages self-exploration and expression. In art therapy sessions, your art therapist may encourage you to try different art media such as colored pencils, paints, clay, and collage. Sometimes non-traditional art materials (e.g. tree branches and leaves) are intentionally introduced to you in order to expand your creative expression. You may also explore different styles of expression, using doodling, abstract designs, and contour drawing. Art therapists are trained to facilitate a type of art making for your specific needs.

The Art Therapy Barbie Playset is available in the US on shelves at Target stores or on Target.com, and globally at a variety of retailers. To find an art therapist near you, visit AATA’s Art Therapist Locator. 

At a time when children are facing a multitude of mental health crises, AATA hopes Art Therapy Barbie will give parents and caregivers an opportunity to talk about mental health with kids and explore the power of art-making in wellness.