What Is Art Therapy*?

 

Art therapy is a healthcare profession that uses artistic creation as a tool to facilitate the expression and resolution of emotions and emotional or psychological conflicts. Art therapy is practiced in individual sessions or in small groups under the guidance of an art therapist. 

 

Art Therapy may also be used as a precursor to talking therapies, as it may be easier to express yourself visually before verbally. Art Therapy combines visual art and psychotherapy in a creative process using the created image as a foundation for self-exploration and under-standing. Thoughts and feelings often reach expression in images rather than in words. Through the use of art therapy, feelings and inner conflicts can be projected into visual form. In the creative act, conflict is re-experienced, resolved and integrated.

Art therapy is a profession with more than seventy years of history that fits within the care professions. Art therapy is practiced following a strict methodology and under a defined therapeutic framework or setting. This therapeutic framework and the aforementioned methodology are mainly based on the theory of art therapy, analytic group psychotherapy, dynamic psychotherapies and contemporary art theory.

Art Therapy is for everyone. 

 

Art therapy can be used with anyone of any age as long as there is the willingness in the person to start therapy in which they will be encouraged to undertake an artistic process.

The use of art media enables self-exploration and the expression of emotions in a non-verbal way. This non-verbal approach is particularly helpful for people who feel uncomfortable with more traditional ‘talking’ therapies. 

 

Advantages of Art Therapy/Art Psychotherapy - Art therapy can encourage clients to:

  • express feelings that may be difficult to verbalise

  • explore their imagination and creativity

  • develop healthy coping skills and focus

  • improve self-esteem and confidence

  • identify and clarify issues and concerns

  • increase communication skills

  • share in a safe nurturing environment

  • identify blocks to emotional expression and personal growth.

 

The psychological value of Art Therapy explores how past relationships and experiences affect an individual’s current circumstances. In order for this to be facilitated a trusting relationship is built between therapist and client, and 'art making' provides a form of expression so that personal development or growth can occur in a safe and supportive environment.

*Definitions of "What is Art Therapy?" have been derived in combination from BAAT, BCATA and ATe