At some point in most of our lives, there will come a time when we experience a mental health crisis. It may come after a divorce, losing a loved one, or another traumatic event.
Many traditional types of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT, can be very effective at helping people overcome their depression, anxiety, and other symptoms. That is if they are comfortable using verbal communication to share their pain.
Many people are not comfortable enough with their communication skills or their own emotions to be able to benefit from traditional talk therapies. This is especially true with young children. In these cases, art therapy can be very worthwhile.
What is Art Therapy?
Art Therapy is a highly effective form of expressive therapy that combines the creative process of making art with psychological theory and a therapeutic relationship to help clients connect mind, body, and spirits in a safe and supporting environment for long-term healing. Art therapy stands out from traditional talk therapy in that it provides an avenue for nonverbal expression and communication to achieve therapeutic goals through a less intrusive medium.
What are the known benefits of Art Therapy?
Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups, families, veterans, and people with chronic health issues to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems; substance abuse and addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive, and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.~ American Art Therapy Association
However, it is important to remember that art therapy is not the be-all and end-all for all mental health challenges. Neither is art therapy an instrument capable of spontaneously curing, healing, correcting, restoring, or resolving an individual's mental health needs; instead, it is similar to most psychotherapy modalities. It is an instrument that can help guide and promote psychological health and wellbeing.
How does It Work?
Art therapy is founded on the belief that self-expression through artistic creation has therapeutic value for those who are healing or seeking a deeper understanding of themselves and their personalities. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapists are trained to understand the roles that color, texture, and various art media can play in the therapeutic process and how these tools can help reveal one's thoughts, feelings, and psychological disposition. Art therapy integrates psychotherapy and some form of visual arts as a specific, stand-alone form of therapy, but it is also used in combination with other types of therapy.
Do you need to be an artist to benefit from Art Therapy?
No, you do NOT have to be "good" at art or have any experience with art materials to find art therapy useful. Art therapy doesn't focus on the artistic outcome but on awareness, self-reflection, and insight into personal change through creative expression.
How do I know if art therapy is right for me?
Is it hard to describe what you are feeling or experiencing?
Are you looking for ways better to manage your mood, symptoms, and impulses and feel more in control?
Do you find it helps or feel better when you can get creative?
Do you feel ready to dive deeper into the underlying roots of your thoughts and patterns?
Do you want to learn strategies that you can use daily outside of therapy sessions?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, art therapy may be the best fit for you.
What do I need to Look for in an Art Therapist?
An art therapist has the minimum of a master’s degree, generally from an integrated program in psychotherapy and visual arts at an educational institution accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The initials ATR after a therapist’s name means he or she is registered with the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB).
Are you interested in exploring art therapy? Contact Sarah Pitzen, our registered art therapist (ATR), today for a complimentary consultation. She would be more than happy to answer any questions you have and see if art therapy may be a good fit for you.