What is Art Therapy and Who Can it Help?
WHAT IS ART THERAPY?
Art therapy IS therapy. Like all therapies, successful treatment depends on the therapist-client relationship. Art therapists use art as a “tool” to help people, much like talk therapists use words. Art therapy may teach art techniques, but art therapy is not art instruction. Art therapy focuses on the artmaking process and content, and not the appearance of the finished art piece. Therefore, art therapy is something anyone can do regardless of their artistic ability. Art therapy is an established mental health profession that was first developed in the mid-20th century and is continuing to grow in popularity due to its effectiveness as a therapy.
HOW DOES ART THERAPY WORK?
The art therapist guides individuals through self-evaluation to identify and develop personal goals in a safe, non-judgmental space. The art therapist is trained to thoughtfully suggest art media and art therapy interventions, meeting people where they are. As a result, each participant may experience the same art therapy session differently. Our art therapists do not psychoanalyze artwork to decipher the individual’s internal struggles or to find hidden meaning in their artwork. Instead, art therapists look for potential indicators that may have a deeper significance and help the individual explore what that means to them. Art therapists aid individuals in the development of tools that promote self-reflection, mindfulness, perspective, and insight. Artmaking can be used as a metaphor for other life experiences, and how people choose to respond to them.
ART THERAPY CAN TREAT A WIDE RANGE OF NEEDS, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
Self-care & addressing burnout
Depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns
Coping with medical illness and injury (TBI, Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Cancer, MS)
Empowering people with disabilities, at-risk youth, people experiencing homelessness
Phase-of-life concerns (middle age, retirement, etc.)
WHY DOES ART THERAPY WORK?
Art therapy takes into consideration that sensory communication is more universal than language, which is why art therapy may be beneficial to people who have not had success with traditional therapy. Art therapy can allow people to express thoughts, experiences, and feelings they may find difficult to talk about. In cases of emotional distress, art therapy is one tool that can help a person better regulate themselves and improve cognitive processing like planning and decision making. Art therapy is accessible and versatile, which many people with different life experiences find beneficial.