According to the "American Art Therapy Association, “art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” Art therapy can be used for individual, couples, family, and group therapy. It uses various forms of creative methods such as: art, drama, music, poetry dance and movement for fostering positive changes, in order to enhance a client’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Art therapists also use these creative processes for clients who have problems expressing their thoughts and emotions.
Research supports using art therapy for individuals experiencing illness, trauma, and mental health problems, and those seeking personal growth. Other individuals who benefit from art therapy include those who have survived trauma resulting from combat (such as post traumatic stress disorder), abuse, and natural disasters. It also benefits those with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer or traumatic brain injury. This therapy is advantageous for individuals with health disability and mental disorders such as autism, dementia, depression, and dissociative disorders.
Art therapy is considered a complementary and alternative therapy. As with all treatments, including alternative therapy, there are precautions that should be taken. Consult a medical physician regarding alternative therapy. Be sure to discuss possible risks and benefits of alternative treatments.This is especially important if the patient is pregnant, has medical problems or takes prescription medicine. Check if the doctor can recommend an art therapist. However, discuss with your doctor first before stopping any conventional treatment. Alternative treatments work best when adjoined with conventional treatment. Always update your physician about all alternative treatments being used. Finally, be sure to make sure the alternative treatment practitioner is well qualified, and certified. In fact, the Art Therapy Credentials Board verifies credentials and education of Art therapists. To find a credible art therapist, please click here.