What is art therapy?

Below is some information about art therapy, provided by the American Art Therapy Association.


Art therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight. Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other art forms), and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy.

History of art therapy

Visual expression has been used for healing throughout history, but art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the 1940s. In the early 20th century, psychiatrists became interested in the artwork created by their patients with mental illness. At around the same time, educators were discovering that children’s art expressions reflected developmental, emotional, and cognitive growth. By mid-century, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers increasingly began to include art therapy programs along with traditional “talk therapies,” underscoring the recognition that the creative process of art making enhanced recovery, health, and wellness.

Art therapists are primarily trained to conduct individual therapy and group therapy. However, there are many art therapists who are qualified to conduct family and couples therapy.


Q: Where do you find art therapy?
A: In partial and medical hospitals, inpatient settings, group homes, nursing homes, private practice, residential treatment, schools, courts, prisons – everywhere!!!

Q: What populations do art therapists work with?
A: Young children to geriatrics – everyone!

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