Art Therapy is an approach in which the art processes, product, content, and reflections are used to mirror a client’s development, aptitude, personality, interests, and concerns. Through the art-making experience and therapeutic relationship, clients express and examine feelings, learn about cause and effect interactions, improve problem solving patterns, promote social skills, develop responsibility and independence, cope with symptoms, and enhance self-esteem.
In Art Therapy you may see…
Exploration of a variety of materials—there is an fundamental quality to each material and its selection provides insight into peoples’ needs, interests, and skill level
Art as a representation of self—internal thoughts can easily be externalized while engaged with art materials. Art therapy provides an opportunity to examine and question emotional content while focusing on the artwork.
Construct-deconstruct-reconstruct—life doesn’t generally provide opportunities for “do-overs.” With art materials, and within the safety of the art room, various options can be tried on and attempted for future use in real life situations
But how does it work?
Art therapy relies on the innate qualities of the art materials and the processes used to manipulate them. Emphasis is not always placed on the specific image or sculptural construction that is created, but rather on how the images represent thoughts, emotional themes, feelings, and experiences. In some cases the art product acts as a springboard for further discussion and exploration. Other times, engaging in the journey of the art process provides insight and opportunity to develop and strengthen skills, with a sense of control not felt in other life domains.
Who are Art Therapists?
Art therapists hold a master’s or doctoral degree in Art Therapy from a program accredited by the American Art Therapy Association. The designation of Registered Art Therapists (ATR) is awarded by the Art Therapy Credentials Board with the completion of 1000 hours of supervised, direct clinical contact post graduation.