What is Art Therapy?
What is art therapy?
Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the expressive and healing potential of the visual arts as the primary means of treatment. The profession has existed for approximately 60 years. It was born of a marriage between art education and psychology that developed over time into its own field of study.
Currently, art therapists are masters level professionals whose training includes studio art, human development, and psychology. Art therapists like mjmeister are trained to assist clients dealing with a variety of emotional, behavioral and mental health issues by tailoring the art exercises and media to the client’s treatment needs and developmental stage.
Who can benefit from art therapy?
Art therapy has been used extensively with children, as it provides a natural way to supplement children’s limited vocabulary, particularly when it comes to discussing complex and emotionally sensitive topics. It has been used with deaf children, children who have been abused and those who are recovering from trauma related to natural and man made disasters.
Art therapy‘s efficacy is certainly not limited to children however and art therapists can frequently be found working in adult treatment settings such as substance abuse treatment programs, VA hospitals, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. Almost anyone who is willing to try can benefit from art therapy, and artistic skill is NOT a pre-requisite. Art therapy focuses on the expressive and healing potential of art-making, not on creating an aesthetically pleasing product.
Why use art therapy?
Art therapy may be more effective than traditional verbal therapy for a number of reasons. First and most obviously, it provides a visual means of communication that can be invaluable in instances where verbal communication is limited or impossible. This could mean overcoming language barriers, speech impediments, or vocabularies limited by cognitive or developmental states. Art therapy also provides a visual record of a client’s progress in therapy and in this way gives clients an important tool not easily available with verbal therapy.
Art therapists can confront clients with images they have made when they try to retract statements, and can bolster them by showing tangible proof of their progress. Clients often experience increased self-esteem through the experience of creating art, and can use their new artistic skills as an important coping skill in the future.
The American Art Therapy Association is the national membership organization for art therapists. You can visit their website at www.arttherapy.org for more information on art therapy, art therapy training programs, and even for help finding an art therapist in your area.