About Art Therapy From the American Art Therapy Association WHAT IS ART THERAPY? Art therapy is the use of art materials and techniques such as drawing, painting, sculpture, and collage for self-expression and reflection in the presence of a clinically trained art therapist. Individuals need not have previous skill or training in art, because the art therapist is not primarily concerned with the making of an aesthetic or diagnostic assessment of the individual’s image. The overall aim of its practitioners is to enable an individual to effect change and growth on a personal level through the use of art materials in a safe and facilitating environment.
HOW DOES ART THERAPY WORK? Art therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life-enhancing. Through creating art, talking about art, and the process of art making with an art therapist, the individual can increase awareness of self, cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences, enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of CREATIVITY. Art therapy differs from traditional art making, however, in that the emphasis is on the process of creating rather than on the end product.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF ART THERAPY? The advantage of art therapy is that even through children and adults are not always able to verbalize what is happening for them or how they feel, interaction in art therapy may be totally non-verbal until there is confidence to communicate verbally the art helps hold that quiet space. Alternatively, there are those who may over-verbalize, blocking feelings and thoughts which need expression. In other words, art contributes to a fine balance within the therapeutic relationship attending to more aspects of a personality than would otherwise be accessible. Some benefits of this therapeutic intervention include: · Sparks creativity and imagination · Increases self-esteem and builds confidence · Increases personal autonomy and motivation · Provides opportunities to express feelings, emotions, and conflicts · Provides opportunities to interact with others thereby enhancing social skills · Enhances the senses of the individual through the use of various art materials thereby increasing the individual’s awareness of the environment
WHAT ABOUT THE ARTWORK? The artwork (or absence of artwork) in each session is a confidential record showing patterns of feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. While the therapist and the individual work together to understand the product of each session, this product must be seen as a reflection of the meaning for the person who created it, through their own discovery.