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Brooks College of Health

What is Art Therapy?


The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as "a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client's functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being" Or put more simply it is "another language for communication and expression in therapy."

How is Art Therapy Beneficial?

The therapeutic use of art in therapy is helpful because of the following:

  • Many people think visually
  • Art allows for additional spatial expression
  • Memories may be pre-verbal or "forbidden"
  • Negative ideas and feelings are more easily expressed in art
  • Art offers unique possibilities for expression
  • Art is flexible and versatile
  • Art normalizes psychotherapy
  • The creative process is a learning experience
  • Art-making is naturally pleasurable and can contribute to healing

Additionally, processing images allows for the genuineness of unexpected material revealed in pictures and the permanence encountered whereby drawing provides a concrete object to study/react/review over the duration of treatment.

Are art skills required to participate in Art Therapy?

Since the goal of art therapy is very different than typical art making, art skills are not required. The focus in art therapy is on the process, not the product. Participants are not trying to create an aesthetically pleasing image. Instead, they are creating an image around an issue to explore visually, process, and gain insight.

Who is considered an Art Therapist?

An art therapist is a practitioner that is trained at the graduate level by completing extensive research and coursework, as well as clinical training that is similar to other mental health practitioners. However, training also includes knowledge of art material and how to use them within a therapeutic context. In addition to being skilled clinicians, most art therapists are also artists.

What about Art Therapy Groups?

Art therapy groups are a great way to combine the benefits and experience of art and group therapy. Check out our offerings and give us a call today for more information or to sign up for an art therapy group.

For more information about our Art Therapy services, call  (904) 620-2602.

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