You may have seen therapeutic coloring books and thought, that sounds like fun, Art Therapy at home! Sure, coloring can be relaxing, but the field of Art Therapy is far more vast and dynamic than simply coloring in the lines.
Art Therapy is a mental health profession that uses the art media, images, and the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of individuals of all ages. According to the American Art Therapy Association, Art Therapy is based on the belief that these creative processes can be healing and life-enhancing. And no worries if your art skills consist mainly of stick figures. That’s okay! Absolutely no artistic background is needed to benefit from or participate in Art Therapy. Much like in typical therapy sessions there is generally still talking and verbal counseling taking place. However, in an Art Therapy session, art-making can be happening simultaneously with an art directive that compliments what is being discussed.
Who are Art Therapists?
Art Therapists are master’s level clinicians. Many become registered and board-certified following an exam and after several years of supervision. Many Art Therapists are also licensed professional counselors in the states in which they practice. Art therapists have the same counseling education as social workers and regular counselors however their coursework emphasizes the therapeutic use of art materials and ways to incorporate them into therapy sessions. Art Therapists are able to perform Art Therapy assessments and evaluate the art process and product to determine functional abilities, developmental levels and personal needs. Most importantly, Art Therapists assist clients in understanding themselves through art.
Art Therapists work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, senior centers, private practice, and psychiatric facilities.
It is also important to note that in many states such as in Connecticut, the title “Art Therapist” is protected by the Board of Public Health. This means that anyone saying they are an Art Therapist or performing Art Therapy without being credentialed is committing a class d felony. So keep this in mind if you are looking for Art Therapy services in Connecticut or your home state.
What art materials are used in Art Therapy?
A variety of art materials are used. You can choose what you are comfortable with or try something new! Here are some examples:
- Drawing utensils such as pencils, ink & markers
- Recycled Materials
- And More!
What are the benefits of Art Therapy?
Under the guidance of an Art Therapist, you can gain many benefits including:
- Time for self-reflection
- Enhanced coping
- Improved cognitive and sensory-motor skills
- Promotion of inner strength
- Improved self-expression
- Gain clarity and insight
- Resolve conflicts
- Opportunities to have fun and experiment with creativity
- Reduce stress and practice mindfulness
Who benefits from Art Therapy?
Kids, teens, and adults of any age. Anyone open to exploring their creative side ( and we are all made to create in our own way!) can benefit from Art Therapy. Specifically, individuals struggling with the following may benefit:
- Life transition
- Low self-esteem and feelings of self-worth
- Anger or Sadness
- Grief and Loss
- Behavioral issues
- Adoption related challenges
Our life experiences are multi-dimensional, so it makes sense to share about them in a therapy session that reflects this. Joining with a trained Art Therapist can offer further support in achieving your goals no matter what you are facing.
Ashley Hines Lunt, LPC, ATR-BC provides Art Therapy in her private practice Guilford, Connecticut. She also provides Art Therapy and virtual counseling for those residing in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. She has a passion for helping children, teens, and young adults give voice to their experiences in a creative way.