What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a way of treating individuals in the field of psychology in which clients are aided through their mental health issues by an art therapist.  The therapist develops art directives for the client using art materials, creativity, and their professional knowledge of the client.  An art directive is an assignment given by an art therapist to explore the client’s issues.  This can take many forms such as a drawing, a collage, or a clay model.

The client completes the art directive and both client and therapist collaboratively analyze and develop the artwork. The value of the art is held in it’s meaning developed by the artist (the client) and therapist.  The client’s art is not critiqued or regarded for its quality but its context.  Through this analysis, they may explore their feelings, address emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, manage symptomology, and develop social skills. 

How Can Art Therapy Help Me?

Research supports using art therapy with a trained professional for the therapeutic benefits achieved through artistic self-expression and reflection for people who experience illness, trauma, and mental health issues and those seeking personal development.  

Art therapy can improve or restore a client’s functioning and his or her sense of personal well-being.  Today art therapy is widely practiced in a wide variety of settings including hospitals, psychiatric facilities, wellness centers, schools, crisis centers, senior centers, private practice, and other clinical and community settings.

How Are You Qualified to do Art Therapy?

Art therapy practice requires knowledge of art (drawing, sculpture, painting) and the creative process, as well as psychology, and counseling techniques. I discovered Art Therapy in undergrad at Cal Poly Pomona while working on a community theatre project with residents at the Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, CA. I then took upper-division level psychology classes and art classes to prepare for my graduate program.  

At Phillips Graduate University in Chatsworth, CA I studied both Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy.  The Art Therapy program had an emphasis on psychoneurobiology where I spent a year learning about the brain and how the brain responds to art and therapy.  

After graduation I sought additional supervision in addition to the minimum hours required for my clinical license, to complete my art therapy registration.  This registration is overseen by the American Art Therapy Association which is an association here in the United States that regulates this mental health profession.  If you are interested in learning more about working with me and art therapy with me, please contact me.