Art therapy is a therapeutic modality in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media and the creative process, resulting in artwork that explores the client's feelings: many times subconsciously. This occurs, while asking the client to look at an issue in a different light. – Adapted from the American Art Therapy Association
The short answer is anyone. Clients reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce grief, anxiety or depression, as well as increase self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-reliance. A goal of art therapy is to improve, or restore, a client’s functioning, and their sense of personal well-being. As a therapeutic modality, Art Therapy involves visual and verbal processing that gives the therapist unique insight and amazing tools to reach core issues. The client and therapist is able to explore negative patterns and set forth a new way to approach difficult situations. Art Therapy is effective in individual, family and group settings.
Art therapy differs from many therapeutic modalities because the client's finished piece is something tangible: Something that can be displayed, or put away. Either way, the client is able to return to the work at a later date, and reflect on the piece again at a different place in their life. One may see something totally different in it's meaning that was not intended at the initial conception, or possibly see where they came from in their journey, and the progress they have made. Often times, for this very reason, we will return to previous work for processing the initial issue.
Children and teens are able to creatively communicate in a safe manner, sharing their inner thoughts and fears in an emotionally safe zone. Expression through different mediums allows adolescents to safely reflect how they see the world through their art. In addition, children are able to explain the way they see themselves, how they believe others see them, and how they interact in the world; safely conveying the tough issues that have derailed their emotional growth. Art Therapy allows troubled teens to share and understand things about themselves that they may otherwise find difficult to express.
Oh... how many times I have heard this? And, my answer is always the same: "Yes, you can draw. You can also work with clay, make collages, make puppets, take photographs, write, and paint." Will you become the next Michelangelo? I cannot answer that, however, that is not the point. We will not be producing artwork to be displayed at Chrystal Bridges, or the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The interventions, or projects, do not require artistic talent, but only a willingness to open up, be honest, and take a positive risk when confronting new situations. In fact, many times I have witnessed that being a "professional artist" can get in the way of spontaneous growth. This is not to say artist cannot proceed with art therapy, but you may be challenged to open up in a way that may not always be comfortable, when you fall back on what you know.
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