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.
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. (Defined by the American Art Therapy Association)
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
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.
Art therapy 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.
Art therapy 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.
How Sam's Fans helps
Sam’s Fans’ goal is to share what Art Therapy is and does so that we can to bring more joy and comfort to those who need it as well as help the special people who provide these services. Not only was Sam a direct recipient of art and music therapy but it impacted each of us along the way. We can not think of a more appropriate way to honor her life than by sharing what she loved with the world!
What does art therapy look like?
Anna’s mother had asked if Gina knew of any art intervention that could help her child with some tactile stimulation. Anna normally does not like anything on her hands, and is very tidy, so combining the different textures and forms of art was a big step for her.
Anna smiled throughout the sessions! Her mother commented on how fun it was for Anna and her to step away and have permission to be a little messy. She was appreciation of the distraction and giving Anna the opportunity to just be a kid.
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.
Mission of the American Art Therapy Association
The American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (AATA) is an organization of professionals dedicated to the belief that making art is healing and life enhancing. Its mission is to serve its members and the general public by providing standards of professional competence, and developing and promoting knowledge in, and of, the field of art therapy.
The American Art Therapy Association is committed to:
High ethical standards, and self evaluation of the organization, leadership, and the profession of art therapy.
Diversity and cross-cultural inclusiveness in its membership and in the development and provision of art therapy to the public.
Public service, social justice, and advocacy for the dignity, self-worth, and creative potential of all people.
To provide leadership and financial and educational support to attract a growing and diverse membership of licensed professional art therapists whose services are valued, appropriately compensated, and considered essential to the public in mental health, healthcare, education, arts, and community programs.