Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. (According to the American Art Therapy Association)
Art is a unique form of communication — no other language allows you to be saying many things at the same time! In art therapy sessions, you’ll be invited to verbally and visually express your thoughts and feelings. This can lead to deeper exploration of issues impacting your life.
In my experience with clients, art-making in therapy is not the only way to uncover and explore thoughts and feelings, but it can be one of the most effective ways. Even if you feel you are not artistic or think it’s a waste of time, I encourage each of my clients to try art-making in their sessions at least once. Art supplies will always be available to you in session, whether you choose to use them or not.
It’s important to know that whether you are expressing yourself verbally or visually, you will be doing so in a safe, supportive environment without judgment or criticism. Not all of our thoughts or feelings are “pretty” — expressing them doesn’t always look pretty, either.
Please be aware: Although many healing professionals utilize various techniques in their work, art therapists have highly specialized training in art therapy. Anyone calling themselves an art therapist must have received a certain number of supervised post-graduate hours and be certified by the Art Therapy Credentials Board. You can check credentials through the Art Therapy Credentials Board Verification Service.