Art therapy is an integrative mental health profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship (The American Art Therapy Association [AATA], 2017). The concept of “good” art does not exist in art therapy. Everyone is encouraged and empowered to embrace their artistic abilities, no experience required.
How Art Therapy Works
Through integrative methods, art therapy engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic opportunities invite alternative modes of receptive and expressive communication, which can circumvent the limitations of language. Visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience, and empowers individual, communal, and societal transformation (AATA, 2017)
Art Therapy for Children and Adolescents
Art therapy can provide an enjoyable and less threatening approach to treatment while allowing a child to embrace their natural creativity and imagination. Interventions and materials are selected to fit an individual’s unique needs and goals. For example, addressing a challenge such as bullying, divorce, or death directly could feel intimidating or overwhelming but when the challenge is addressed creatively through metaphor, the child can ease into facing the challenge and begin the process of acceptance and healing.
Art Therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals for children, adolescents, and adults including:
- Improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions
- Foster self-esteem and self-awareness
- Cultivate emotional resilience
- Promote insight
- Enhance social skills
- Reduce and resolve conflicts and distress
- Emotion management and behavior change
Who Are Art Therapists?
Art therapists are master-level clinicians who work with people of all ages across a broad spectrum of practice. Guided by ethical standards and scope of practice, their education and supervised training prepares them for culturally proficient work with diverse populations in a variety of settings.
Honoring individuals’ values and beliefs, art therapists work with people who are challenged with medical and mental health problems, as well as individuals seeking emotional, creative, and spiritual growth (AATA, 2017).
Meet Sunshine State Counseling Center’s Art Therapist, Chelsea Darling