What is Art Therapy?

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~Art therapy is not an exact science, nor is it trial and error. It is a profession of reaching and touching emotions through artwork; recognizing feelings and helping to identify them in oneself and others. The goals of art therapy are to move toward healing and growth. The end results can be enlightening, empowering both the client and the therapist with a stronger sense of identity, accomplishment, and self-knowledge. EspritDart@aol.com

~Art psycotherapy means non verbal psychotherapy; the use of art materials in a psychotherapeutic environment with the purpose of self-disclosure. Through it the patient is able to connect with the symbolic language of the unconscious -individual and collective one- bringing forward visual material thru which is possible to increase self-awareness. I am a bilingual-bicultural art therapist working with the ethnic population–meaning Spanish, Bosnians, Pakistanies, Africans and Palestines. It is my experience that with that population in particular art psycotherapy provides a wonderful, insightful tool of communication. There are several factors that in art psycotherapy are resolved: the patient does not speak English; the patient is shy (this is particularly true from patients that are coming from rural areas of Central America as well as Palestinians /Pakistanies women); the patient does not understand what is therapy. For many of these patients expressing through art materials is the only outlit they have of connecting meaninfully with this society as well as feeling that they are making a contribution of some sort.
The images created in art psychotherapy session allows for a better understanding of the psyche structure of the patient and is like a finger print telling me where the patient is at that particular moments. Images as memories allows a chain of emotions and feelings to surface. It is easier to talk about the image than about themselves; through the images, disclosure of important information is used for assessment and help the art psychotherapist and the psychiatrist with the development of the treatment plan. BLedesma@aol.com

~I am frequently asked the question, “What is Art Therapy?” I would first like to say what Art Therapy is not. It is not arts and crafts. It is not product oriented. It is not purely recreational activity. It is process oriented, it is self-expressive. It is therapeutic in that it is multi-sensory, involves visual-perceptual skills, requires coordination and fine motor control, teaches people to use objects purposefully, to follow directions, and build communication skills. It allows people to work at their own pace and skill level and ultimately builds self-esteem. DMMero@aol.com

~Art therapy is a non-verbal way of working through issues, concerns, etc. in a therapeutic setting. Art therapy allows the client/therapist to work with a tangible product symbolizing the client’s inner world. The product is not as important as the process of doing the piece of art work. Art therapy is used for diagnostic purposes as well as therapeutic ones. Art therapists usually work as conjunctive therapists with other mental health professionals. It is especially condusive for populations who tend to be non-verbal such as children. In addition, it can be very helpful for overly intellectualized adults who have difficulty in reaching other parts of their psyche. LilyinSun@aol.com

~Art Therapy is a healing and creative modality. The magic of true art therapy is to allow a client to create, to encourage this creativity, and facilitate self-discovery. Lindala@att.net

~My definition of an Art Therapist is a therapist who can read art and can see the artist’s story, what she or he is going through at that time in her/his life. For example, I love to draw skeletons and dragons. What do you see when you see a skeleton? What do you see in a picture that has a lot of blood in it and the creature is being stabbed and killed? I draw pictures like that and people say I am sick and twisted and in need of help. I say to them, you have known me for this long and are just figuring this out?? What you do NOT see when you see my picture with knives going through the creature? Don’t just see the picture, look beyond it and you will see a story. There are different kinds of art, but art is art. Some people can’t draw well so they take photographs, create fine art, cartoon, and some create whatever is on their minds. Some play music or write poetry. It is all art. Just like movies, books, stories and television shows. Take a look at art and what do you see?. There you will see what the person is all about. The dragon for example, in my pictures, is me. I hope you will enjoy art and remember to look beyond the art, as you will find answers.
Bye Bye..Have Fun!

An International Community for Creative Arts Therapists