Art therapy


Art therapy became established as a mental health profession in the 1930s and is now practiced in hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, businesses, and private practices. It involves the application of a variety of art modalities including drawing, painting, clay, and sculpture.
Art therapy enables the expression of inner thoughts or feelings when verbalization is difficult or not possible. The aesthetic aspect of the creation of art is thought to lift one's mood, boost self-awareness, and improve self-esteem. Art therapy also allows the opportunity to exercise the eyes and hands, improve eye-hand coordination, and stimulate neurological pathways from the brain to the hands.
Art therapy is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional problems; substance abuse and addictions; family and relationship issues; abuse and domestic violence; and coping with disability or medical illness.
Art therapy may aid in stress reduction and relaxation.
Art therapy may aid in both the assessment of problems and their treatment.
Art therapy may take place individually with an art therapist or in a group setting. It may be conducted as a single session or as a series of sessions.
The creation of art is itself considered therapeutic as a form of self-expression. However, the formal use of art therapy usually involves discussion and interpretation of the meaning of what the person has created with an art therapist, and possibly with peers in a group situation. Such discussion may foster helpful insights into what the work might reveal about the person's life, goals, aspirations, feelings, or needs.

Related Terms

Activity therapy, art dialogues, art stimulation, CAI, clay modeling, CMGT, computer projective drawing, creative arts intervention, creative expression, cross-modality grief therapy, drama therapy, free drawing, integrative behavior, music therapy, paraverbal therapy, play therapy, poetry therapy, rehabilitation psychiatry, visual art dialogues, visual distraction, visual stimulation.
Not included in this review: Activity therapy, color therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, play therapy.