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What is Art Therapy (AT)?

Art Therapy Defined:

Art Therapy is the use of artistic methods to enhance mental health and treat psychological disorders. It is a technique that originated in the idea that creative expression can promote healing and mental well-being. Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that implements the creative process of making art to holistically improve a client’s emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being. The process of expressing oneself artistically helps individuals resolve challenges. Further, it helps to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and manage behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.

No talent is needed to acquire the benefits of art therapy. Professionals can work with clients to look deeper into the underlying meaning communicated through the artwork to support the process of healing.

Art therapy has the ability to do unique things for individuals. It can be implemented by therapists to encourage healing, psychotherapy, and in treatment, just to name a few. In a way, it can be used to help clients gain insight into a deeper, more profound, understanding of themselves.

Other Ways to Define Art Therapy:

Often art therapy is called creative or expressive arts therapy. It encourages clients to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and through the creative process (Free Dictionary, 2020).

Art therapy is also a form of expressive therapy that implements art materials including paints, clay, colored pencils, and many others. It combines established psychotherapeutic theories as well as techniques of the psychological aspects of the creative process.

Another way to define art therapy is that it involves art creation to increase the level of awareness of oneself and others. Thus, art therapy supports personal development, enhances cognitive function, and develops healthy coping skills all of which is evidenced based via theoretical approaches founded on personality theories, human development, psychology, family systems, and art education. It is important to know that art therapists are trained in art academia as well as psychological therapy (The New Medicine, 2020).

American Art Therapy Association (AATA), defines the AT profession: Art therapy, according to AATA (2020), is the therapeutic use of art making. Art making takes place within a professional relationship by people who experience trauma, illness, challenges in living, and by clients who are in pursuit of personal development. By reflecting on the art process and product, clients can increase self-awareness and awareness of others as well as manage symptoms of stress and traumatic experiences. Additionally, art therapy can enhance cognitive abilities in ways that provide life-affirming pleasures of making art (American Art Therapy Association, 2020).

Art therapists are trained professionals in both art and therapy. They are educated in the aspects of human development, spiritual, psychological theories, clinical practice, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing abilities of art. These professionals implement art in the areas of treatment, assessment, and research. Art therapists work with clients of all types: individuals, couples, families, groups, and communities. Furthermore, they provide individual services as part of clinical teams in a plethora of settings that include:

  • Mental health

  • Rehabilitation

  • Medical and forensic institutions

  • Community outreach programs

  • Wellness centers

  • Schools

  • Nursing homes

  • Corporate structures

  • Open studios

  • Independent practices

What Does an Art Therapist Do?

Art therapists have studied and mastered both psychology and human development, having received a master’s degree or doctorate. Requirements for becoming an art therapist means they are experts when it comes to using art as a catalyst for everything from a general assessment to treatment. Art therapists work with people of all ages, sex, creed, et al. Further, they can assist individuals, couples, families, or groups of people independently or with a clinical team.

Art therapists have been trained to identify nonverbal symbols and metaphors expressed through the client's artwork and the creative process that may be difficult for them to express with words. Through this process, the individual truly becomes aware of the effects of art therapy and what can be discovered in the process.

Why Art Therapy?

Art as therapy is commonly used as a treatment for a way to improve one’s emotional state or mental well-being. It does not have to be used only as treatment. Expressive art therapy can be used to relieve stress or it can be used as a process of self-discovery. Besides helping someone better their emotional being, art therapy is great for many other things. There are so many positive and powerful benefits to expressive art therapy. Art Therapy is a rapidly growing field. If you have tried other methods that have not been helpful, be creative and explore expressive art therapy.

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About Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today,

Naya Clinics is a top-rated Marriage Counseling, therapy and Life coaching practice.

Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world. Naya Clinics also offers Online marriage counseling, online therapy, and online life coaching.

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