What is Art Therapy?

“Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others, cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art. Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art.” – American Art Therapy Association

“When I work with art in session, it can take on different shapes.  When an individual needs to manage stress art can be used to improve mindfulness, slow down, take in the color and the shapes.  When someone is struggling with self esteem, failure proof art making, such as collage, abstract art making done in session or even a paint night out with friends can bring a sense of improved identity, as now that person is an artist.  Art can of course be used as a means of direct emotional expression as well, allowing the access of emotions via shape and color formation.  The choice of media is also a consideration when developing a treatment plan with art therapy.  Rigid materials such as collage pieces and pencil are great for folks struggling to manage out of control emotions, where as a more rigid client would be encouraged to work with oil pastels and paint, media that cannot be completely controlled.” – Dana Venable

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