An Introduction to the Approach of Art Therapy: A Brief Guide


Art therapy uses art in various forms as a healing and therapeutic process. Using art, all kinds of people are able to explore what they feel, reconcile their conflicts, be self aware as well as manage their behavior, improve their social skills and their orientation towards reality. This allows for anxiety to be reduced and self esteem to get a boost.

This is practiced in various rehabilitation centers, mental health centers, educational, forensic as well as medical centers. This is also practiced in small groups and in workshops. The clients of these therapies come from different walks of life and they have varied challenges.

Art therapy is used to treat people who have medical, social, developmental, educational as well as psychological impairment. This improves the functioning of the person as well as their feeling of well being.

The art therapists are those who are trained in therapy as well as art. They need to understand in detail human development, counseling techniques as well as psychological theories.

Art Therapy has various uses. It can be used even on the very young or the very elderly people, people who have physical disabilities and those that have psychological disorders too.

This therapy started way back in the 1940s and Margaret Naumburg who was a therapist and educator, first defined this therapy as a distinct branch and different to psychotherapy. She is called the founder of this branch of therapy. She used to have her clients draw their  dreams and speak about the dreams.

This form of therapy emanates from within and it makes the person explore their inner perceptions, feelings as well as their imagination and inner experiences. This expresses as well as develops those images which come from inside of the person.

Art therapists need to have an MS in either art therapy or in a field which is related. These are licensed and they also require studio art classes as well as an art portfolio which shows their proficiency in sculpture, painting and drawing.

These therapists use different techniques and in this process get insight and meaning of what is going on in the client’s mind. The clients are asked to use the image to convey their feelings and thoughts and thus they are able to grow. There are some that even use Gestalt methods where the image is used by the therapist to kick start discussions.

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