Art therapy is a form of therapy practiced in the mental health field. During this kind of therapy, patients use art and media to explore feelings, develop social skills, manage behavior, cope with addiction, become more self-aware, reconcile emotional conflict, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem. The exact goal will vary depending on the client and their mental health struggles. Generally, art therapists work to help their clients with their sense of well-being and function in day-to-day living.
Art therapy is most often practiced alongside other forms of therapy and mental health management. To become an art therapist, individuals need to have an intimate knowledge of the creative process and varying visual art forms, as well as an understanding of counseling, human development, and psychological practice.
How Art Therapy Works
Some individuals are surprised to hear art therapy has an established place in the mental health field. It's often used alongside psychotherapy, which is a form of talk therapy. One of the reasons art therapy works is because art is a method of self-expression. Patients can use art to express themselves and work through their feelings. In addition, art is something patients can feel proud of themselves for doing. A big contributing factor to depression can often be an individual isn't engaging in hobbies or creative endeavors.
According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a way of utilizing creation to improve emotional, physical, and mental overall wellness. Many individuals use art therapy to express themselves. During the process, they gain more insight into their minds and feelings. Art therapy also helps individuals develop new or better coping skills. The techniques used in art therapy can encompass any visual art form including sculpting, collage, coloring, painting, and drawing. Patients and their therapists often analyze their creations and how they feel about them as they work.