What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is an interpersonal relationship between a professional art therapist and an individual that includes the art creation process and art expressions. The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as:

“[An] integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship. Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.”

How Does Art Therapy Work?

Making art is a therapeutic process in and of itself and practicing creativity produces growth. “Through integrative methods, art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone” (The American Art Therapy Association). Art materials for drawing, painting, sculpting, collaging and more are utilized in the art therapy studio. Methods utilize physical movement, the senses, perceptions, and symbols. Brain research supports application of specific art-based approaches to heal stress, pain, trauma and to enhance focus and mood. Art therapists apply evidenced-based practices to guide, witness and respond to an individual’s creative process and expressions. Art therapy gives voice to experience and empowers transformation, improving overall quality of life and perceptions of wellness.

Who Could Benefit from Art Therapy?

Art therapy supports development of health-enhancing tools for engaging both play and conflict across the lifespan. Art therapy is an especially effective intervention for somatically-based conditions including trauma reactions, PTSD, depression, pain, fatigue, neurological and cognitive disorders. Art therapy enhances soothing, attention, interpersonal skills, behavior management, and increased self-awareness and confidence.

How to Get Started with Art Therapy

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