Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses art-making and the creative process to enhance the well-being of individuals and families of all ages. It can be as simple as kneading a ball of clay or as involved as a multi-step sculpture. It can take up 1 minute of the session or can be the focus of the therapeutic work. Art therapy takes on many different forms and utilizes many different materials including: clay, paint, oil pastels, chalk pastels, colored pencils, paper collage, wood, fabric, yarn, music, poetry, journaling, mosaic, sculpture, photos, found objects, etc. Art therapy is combined with traditional talk therapy to help clients gain deeper insight, assist with self expression, and look at problems from new perspectives.
What does an art therapist do in session?
Art therapists have a Masters' degree in art therapy. They create a safe and inspiring environment for the client to make art and work to help clients recognize symbols and patterns that show up in their art. Art therapists do not analyze or interpret art work, but instead work with the client to better understand the meanings they give to their work. Most importantly, the art therapist is well aware of the inherent therapeutic and empowering qualities of art-making and draws upon this to create an enriching experience for the client.
Is art therapy just for kids?
Art therapy can be helpful for children, adults, couples, and families. People often understand how children can benefit from art therapy, as they sometimes don't have the verbal capacity to express themselves. Adults struggle with the same challenge - life is complex, feelings are mixed, and sometimes words aren't enough. Making art gives us another perspective in therapy. It can be proactive and empowering. Art making also engages both sides of the brain which is an important component in integrating and learning new things. Couples and families can benefit from art therapy by understanding dynamics, and communication styles, and others perspectives while making things together.
While art making is always available, I am comfortable with many different modalities, including traditional talk therapy. More importantly, I tailor my work to harness the inherent strengths of the client.
To learn more about art therapy, visit the American Art Therapy Association website at www.arttherapy.org
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