What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a treatment modality used in counseling and psychotherapy practices, whereas the counselor uses art materials and techniques as tools during sessions. Art therapy can be used by people with varying levels of art experience. It can be used for many different populations, including children, adults, elderly, veterans, those with developmental disabilities and special needs, individuals with addiction issues, and trauma-relational issues. Art therapists are specifically trained to understand what types of materials are beneficial for the work based in different therapeutic topics. These art therapy techniques are then incorporated into talk therapy modalities.

The inclusion of art therapy within talk therapy methods gives clients who may struggle with verbalizing their experiences, new ways to communicate. Essentially, this is done by implementing art techniques and materials that help you to access both the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere of your brain, thus allowing a complete integration of thoughts, feelings, and emotions while processing your experiences.

Find a way to express what moves you.
— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Art therapy is a fairly new theoretical concept in psychology, beginning during the 1940’s, however people have been using art in a therapeutic way for thousands of years. Because it is fairly new in the field of psychology, the art therapy field is fairly small and growing. Many clinicians are realizing the value of incorporating expressive and visual arts into treatment with clients.

Any materials can be used during an art therapy session. Materials that are commonly used in art therapy directives include drawing and painting materials, clays, fibers, textiles, papers, digital tools, and natural and recycled materials. Art therapists create and use directives with clients, which are chosen based on the work that is being done in the session. The art therapists use techniques learned during their training to decide which materials and directives are a good fit for their clients.

I am trained in art therapy and I am currently working toward the Registered Art Therapy credentialing.