Art therapist philosophy 

I believe the creative act or the act of creation has the power to teach us about ourselves to tap deeply into our beliefs, deeper than our conscious mind is able to do, to help us find solutions to problems, answers to questions and give us insight into our beliefs.

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It is important to know that: 

  • Art therapy utilizes creative arts, specifically visual art, to address overwhelming emotions and trauma, resolve conflict, and provide personal insight.

  • The art produced during sessions can catalyze self-discovery and help with the ability to think about old problems in a new way, interrupting cycles of self-defeating behaviors.

  • Art therapy helps the brain recognize, acknowledge and resolve problems beyond our immediate awareness or conscious control.

  • Being an artist is not important in order to use the power of creation to examine behaviors, feelings, thoughts and reactions or gain personal insight.  

  • Artistic expression, regardless of talent, helps connect and ground life’s experiences in a gentle and non-threatening way, reorienting and transforming oneself. 

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is an integrative mental health profession that combines knowledge and understanding of human development and psychological theories and techniques with visual arts and the creative process to provide a unique approach for helping clients improve psychological health, cognitive abilities, and sensory-motor functions. Art therapists use art media, and often the verbal processing of produced imagery, to help people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

Art therapy has the unique ability to unlock emotional expression by facilitating non-verbal communication. This is especially useful in cases where traditional psychotherapy has been ineffectual. Art and art making are inherently perceptually and sensory based and involve the brain and the body in ways that verbal language does not. Art therapy provides an alternative means of communicating for those who cannot find the words to express anxiety, pain or emotions as a result of trauma, combat, physical abuse, loss of brain function, depression, and other debilitating health conditions.

Although use of visual imagery is the foundational tenet of art therapy, art therapists uniquely draw from multiple theoretical approaches in their understanding, design, and implementation of treatment. Art therapists understand the science of imagery and the therapeutic potentials of color, texture, and various art media and how these affect a wide range of potential clients and personalities. Rigorous clinical training in working with individuals, families, and groups prepare art therapists to make parallel assessments of clients’ general psychological disposition and how art as a process is likely to moderate conditions and corresponding behavior. Recognizing the ability of art and art-making to reveal thoughts and feelings, and knowledge and skill to safely manage the reactions they may evoke, are competencies that define art therapy as a profession.

From the American Art Therapy Association

Who Benefits from Art Therapy?

Art therapy is action-oriented and experience-based. Such inherent qualities differentiate it from other forms of therapy and make it particularly effective for a variety of client populations. Art therapists work with individuals, couples, families and groups in diverse settings, including hospitals, schools, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, community mental health clinics, wellness centers, forensic institutions, crisis centers, senior communities, veteran’s clinics, juvenile facilities, correctional institutions and other community facilities. The methods and treatment objectives of art therapy differ depending on the setting and client population.

From the American Art Therapy Association

The creative process is a spiritual channel to the miraculous.
— Lenard Cohen