Art therapy provides individuals of all ages with an opportunity to communicate thoughts, feelings and ideas in healthier, more productive ways. Often, emotions and personal experiences can be too complex or difficult to put into words. Utilizing the creative arts in psychotherapy provides clients with a unique opportunity for healing that is sometimes lacking in traditional “talk therapy” approaches. You do not have to be an artist to benefit from art therapy; it is an individualized process that involves the exploration of many forms of creative expression within a therapeutic partnership, under the guidance of an experienced, licensed and board-certified expert in the field.
Art Therapists are mental health professionals that have educational training and professional experience integrating the visual arts into psychotherapy to help people of all ages recover from a variety of mental health and behavioral concerns. They are skilled at understanding how the visual arts (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the qualities of various art materials can be used in conjunction with many counseling theoretical approaches, to help people with a variety of treatment concerns: anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, social-skill deficits, emotion regulation problems, sensory processing issues, and other mental health symptoms. Art therapy allows for the exploration of emotion and personal experiences in a safe and tolerable context; this can allow for a level of safety and trust that supports the building of skills to better manage emotions, cope and resolve conflicts in healthier ways. This process can further support the development of self-awareness and esteem; strengthen social-communication skills; overcome addictions; reduce anxiety and build self-confidence; strengthen self-concept and improve level of functioning within interpersonal relationships. Art therapy is strength-based at its core and integrates well with a variety of theoretical approaches, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and EMDR Therapy, to name a few. Art therapy similarly goes hand-in-hand with play-based therapies, since both involve experimentation and improvisation, and provides opportunities to both and express and "play out" experiences in a visible, tangible way.
Art therapy can help you discover new ways to express yourself, find a positive outlet for growth and building skills, so you can successfully make the changes you desire and maintain that progress. The art product provides the distance sometimes needed to view problems or concerns from a new perspective, and this can allow for the development of solutions and new strategies for coping to be explored and put into practice. It's no secret that art making can be calming, healing, and life-enhancing in itself, and many professionals and individuals integrate art into their practices or daily lives. What differentiates this from art therapy though, is doing the work within the context of therapy, with a trained professional. In art therapy, we emphasize process over product, because the experience itself can yield great insight and provide great relief. The art therapist's role is to guide and support the client to find the best means to express what they need to and supply the best tools for doing so, to support them in their own individual healing process.
To read more about art therapy and review the code of ethics for art therapists, please visit website of the American Art Therapy Association (AATA): www.arttherapy.org
In New York State, art therapists must be licensed to practice as mental health professionals. Licensure can be obtained when educational and professional experience requirements have been met and candidates pass a written examination. This serves as a measure of professional competency as well as provides a standard by which art therapists must ethically practice. To read more about the profession and standards of practice for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists (LCAT), please visit the website of the NYS Department of Education’s Office of the Professions: www.op.nysed.gov
Nationally, art therapists must be registered ("ATR") and board-certified ("ATR-BC"). Certification in art therapy can be obtained by licensed mental health professionals of all types, who have completed graduate-level coursework, and professional experience requirements under the supervision of a registered and board-certified art therapist. For more information, please visit the website of the Art Therapy Credentials Board: www.atcb.org