What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a 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. Art therapy has the unique ability to unlock emotional expression by facilitating non-verbal communication. This is especially useful in cases of impairment of verbal expression that is characteristic of various neurological, psychological and cognitive disorders. These clinical cases frequently arise with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, dementia in aging adults, those who have experienced physical or emotion trauma, clients struggling with psychotic disorders and children on the autistic spectrum, to name a few conditions. Art therapy’s singular benefits are recognized by the medical community as a valuable asset, whether provided as primary therapy or by adjunctive inclusion on interdisciplinary teams.
How are Art Therapists Unique?
Art therapy services are distinct from those of other mental health professionals. Art therapists are specialized health professionals with an art therapy master’s degree or related degree who are trained and practice both in the therapeutic use of art and in psychology. They use art in assessment, treatment and research. They offer their services individually and also as part of a clinical team. Although art therapists are highly trained, non-art-therapists are increasingly billing clients for art therapy services for which they have not been trained. As evidence of the distinct nature of their services, art therapists may work independently or adjunctively with other mental health professionals to uniquely provide assessment and analysis.
How are Art Therapists educated?
The American Art Therapy Association’s Education Committee sets the stringent Educational Standards of the profession used by more than 30 accredited colleges and universities nationwide provide an art therapy master’s degree. The Art Therapy Credential’s Board (ATCB) conveys an ATR-Board Certification and an ATR certification depending on the continuing education requirements and a rigorous Board exam. Art therapists graduating from accredited master’s degree programs have had extensive training with clinical internships, that meet or exceed standards for traditional mental health counseling, making art therapists thoroughly prepared to provide excellent care to their clients.