Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.
It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Therapy through art recognizes art processes, forms, content and associations as reﬂections of an individual’s development, abilities, personality, interests, and concerns. The use of art as therapy implies that the creative process can be a means both of reconciling emotional conﬂicts and of fostering self awareness and personal growth. In Art therapy the client and therapist work together to understand visual and verbal messages. Different theoretical approaches may be employed in the therapist-client relationship as the Art Therapist creates a supportive environment.
Art therapy is used in psychiatric centers, clinics, community center, nursing homes, drug and alcohol treatment programs, schools, prisons, residential treatment centers, general hospitals, and other clinical, educational and rehabilitative settings. Art Therapists work with people of all ages in a variety of settings.
Advantages and Outcomes
- Art Therapy interventions have resulted in faster therapeutic outcomes.
- Art Therapists provide specialized directives and interventions to meet psychological, behavioral and developmental needs of clients.
- Art processes and products provide a record of progress.
- These products can be utilized in the therapeutic process.
- They can be modiﬁed, exaggerated and/or explored throughout the clients treatment.
- Art Therapy is more likely to increase the clients ability to focus and can increase attention span.
- Art Therapy provides a tool for self-reﬂection, unlike verbal counseling, the art is a concrete image that can be reﬂected upon over a long period of time.
- Art Therapy offers a safe space to explore new strategies for coping. Self-awareness and self-conﬁdence grow when practicing new coping strategies.
- Art Therapy directives o!er a balanced experience of structure and expression, depending on the needs of the client.
- When clients have engaged in Art Therapy processes, they often continue to utilize the creative process as a tool outside the therapeutic sessions.