Updated: Jul 19
"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." ~ Aristotle
So let's jump right into this topic! Art and therapy are a powerful equation for self-growth. The combination of creative processes and clinical insight provides many healing qualities that, at times, cannot be accessed with traditional talk therapy.
The purposes of any clinical mental health treatment are often idea-driven, focused on enriching the client, and guiding the client to identify, learn, and utilize their unique strengths and coping skills. When using art therapy, the therapist focuses on applying psychological theory, clinical expertise, and creative/artistic processes (American Art Therapy Association [AATA], 2017).
Many use the term art therapy very loosely. It is essential to clarify that to become an art therapist; there are many requirements. So, in other words, an individual has not deemed an art therapist because they use art or creativity in therapy.
Art therapy is a mental health profession delivered by clinicians who possess graduate-level education in Art Therapy or Expressive Arts Therapy. In addition, there is also a specific set of hours of supervised field experience that is completed for full credentialing as an art therapist to this education requirement.
I will provide more information about this in later posts!
Art Therapy addresses mental health concerns through individual (i.e., child, adolescent, or adult), family, and group sessions. Art Therapists can work in various settings such as schools, agencies/organizations, communities, hospitals, treatment centers, residential settings, non-profits, hospice, art studios, and private practices. Art Therapy can be an effective treatment for various mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, grief, abuse, trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.
Art therapy can take many forms, such as drawing, painting, collage, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, crafts, digital art, and found objects. Art Therapy also utilizes various art media such as paint, crayons, colored pencils, watercolor, chalk/oil pastels, etc. The qualities of the material used in an art therapy session require clinical expertise and intentional application to provide the client with either control or fluidity in the creative process.
There are many excellent benefits of art therapy in terms of clinical treatment. Let me count the ways!
Provides insight (i.e., deeper and more precise understanding of the self).
Improves focusing and helps expand attention.
Helps with frustration tolerance.
Provides stress reduction.
Improves social skills
Provides an outlet for expressing feelings, wants, and needs.
It's fun! And kids and teens love it!
It provides safety and distance to work through complicated feelings and life themes/patterns that adults may have difficulty "talking" about.
Art is a symbolic and expressive language.
I can keep on going here, but I think you have a point! Art Therapy is for all ages can be applied across various settings, treat a range of mental health concerns/diagnosis, and provide further depth and clarity, which facilitates healing and self-growth!
Have you ever considered taking up art-making as a form of self-care?
If so, what type of art do you feel you would enjoy?
American Art Therapy Association. (2017). About art therapy. Retrieved from https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/
For more information on art therapy click "Resources" tab on The Primed Canvas Home page.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be utilized as a form of self-help, personal clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on this blog is meant for educational purposes and to provide clinical art therapy directives/resources for trained mental health professionals. This information is by no means a substitute for therapy.
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