What is Art Therapy?

First, I'd like every prospective client to know that no previous artistic experience or natural artistic ability is required to find success in art therapy treatment.

 

Art therapy is not about art with a capital "A." Art therapy, as facilitated by a professionally-trained art therapist, is about self-exploration, growth, and healing through a variety of creative outlets.

 

An art therapist helps clients utilize both the art-making process and the art product to enhance communication, gain self-awareness, increase self-esteem, improve concentration, reduce feelings of isolation, and so much more. Art makes the intangible tangible. Art therapy gives individuals an opportunity to externalize their inner thoughts and feelings, so they can be recognized, understood, and sometimes challenged, then reintegrated and accepted.

Art therapy has been shown to be especially beneficial for treating anxiety, depression, trauma/PTSD, and eating disorders. What individuals experiencing these symptoms might have in common is a tendency to avoid or suppress emotional pain, disconnecting from bodily sensations, and a desire for control. Art gives a voice to the complexity of our emotional experiences, extending beyond what words alone can capture. Research has shown that, while art-making, our mental and physical states become harmoniously intertwined, strengthening the mind-body connection. Art-making has also been shown to utilize multiple regions of the brain at once, which can aid in finding emotional balance and regulation when processing through challenging subject matter. Through the art-making process, individuals can gain cognitive flexibility and improve distress tolerance skills to reduce the need for over-control.

Art therapy can be more interactive, collaborative, flexible, and fun than traditional talk therapy. If you've tried talk therapy before and found that it just didn't work for you, art therapy may be a new way of exploring your concerns from a different perspective. Working with an art therapist offers more variety and choices to be able to reach your goals.  

If you want to learn even more about art therapy