Art Therapy as a Tool to Complement Traditional Therapies

People all over the world have been utilizing the arts to assist individuals who are experiencing problems in their life. Between experiencing tragedy or anxiety debilitating them, art therapy may help. Art therapy may include painting, sculpture, or other options using a wide selection of art media. While there is little data available to back up what therapists have seen, creative expression can be powerful to those in need of healing. Even without the statistics to prove the relationship with mental health help, many schools and communities are embracing art therapy.

The American Art Therapy Association’s mission includes working on the expansion of availability for professional art therapists to use art therapy to help mental health and human service professionals. Art therapy incorporates psychological background and techniques from visual and creative arts to help individuals. One big benefit is that art therapy allows those participating to work through conflicts in a nonverbal way. The process of the therapy helps with their mental health, cognition, and sensory needs.  Different art media allows people to work through internal conflicts, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and much more.

Art therapy is also very helpful for special needs individuals and those who may be limited in their verbal expression. People who have been through trauma may not want to or be able to talk through their experience, but art opens up many possibilities. Over time, therapists have found that these sessions allow many individuals to cope with their depression, anxiety, and make them feel like a part of a group with other artists.

To become an art therapist, an individual needs a master’s degree and post-graduate clinical experience. The American Art Therapy Association has a list of approved art therapy master’s degree programs. There are 39 approved art therapy master’s degree programs available at 35 colleges and universities within the United States. Information about the Art Therapy Master’s Education is located on the AATA website. School districts may wish to incorporate art therapy at different age levels to help a wide variety of students. To help you locate a certified art therapist you may check the 2017 American Art Therapy  Association “Art Therapy Locator” list. Within this list, art therapists are sorted by state, city, and their names. School districts may also want to coordinate with colleges or universities near them that have art therapy courses to begin programs that are mutually beneficial.

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