Art Therapy

What is art therapy?




Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.

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How does art therapy help?

Supporting ability to cope with medical challenges and hospitalization

Providing an outlet for, and supporting emotional self-expression

Reducing anxiety, pain, and stress

Relaxation and meditation

Fostering positive interaction and communication between patients and their families

Building confidence, self-esteem, and resiliency

A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being. Art therapy practice requires knowledge of visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms) and the creative process, as well as of human development, psychological, and counseling theories and techniques.

Today, art therapy is widely practiced in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities, wellness centers, forensic institutions, schools, crisis centers, senior communities, private practice, and other clinical and community settings. During individual and/or group sessions art therapists elicit their clients’ inherent capacity for art making to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Research supports the use of art therapy within a professional relationship for the therapeutic benefits gained through artistic self expression and reflection for individuals who experience illness, trauma, and mental health problems and those seeking personal growth.

Who benefits from art therapy?

Art therapy is practiced in mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational, forensic, wellness, private practice and community settings with diverse client populations in individual, couples, family, and group therapy formats.

It is an effective treatment for people experiencing developmental, medical, educational, and social or psychological impairment. Individuals who benefit from art therapy include those who have survived trauma resulting from combat, abuse, and natural disaster; persons with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury, and other health disability; and persons with autism, dementia, depression, and other disorders.

It helps people resolve conflicts, improve interpersonal skills, manage problematic behaviors, reduce negative stress, and achieve personal insight. Art therapy also provides an opportunity to enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of art making.

AATA Membership

You are invited to join with the American Art Therapy Association! Membership in the Association is a signal that you are an active participant in the field of art therapy, dedicated to the growth of the field and to increasing your knowledge in this specialized therapeutic practice. The American Art Therapy Association is an outstanding networking opportunity to increase your knowledge and career potential.

Please click here for a list of membership types and the membership benefits specific to each member category. Remember to join your local Chapter at the same time that you join or renew your National membership!

Please click here to learn more about the chapter in your state.