What is Art Therapy?

“Imagination is not a talent of some men, but is the health of every man”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

SpeakArtLoud believes in the inherent healing power of the creative process.  We believe making art provides a way to explore and express ideas, thoughts and feelings and that art can help us to communicate and create new ideas.  Because of this we have chosen to use art therapy in our program.

If you are not familiar with art therapy this post will provide some general information about what art therapy is and how art therapy is used.

Please know that I am not an art therapist and this is just a summary of art therapy.  To learn more about art therapy you can check out the links to art therapy organizations that are included below.

Therapy & Art Making
Art therapy is a professional field of study and practice that combines therapy with art making.  Art therapy, based on knowledge of human developmental and psychological theories, is a form of therapy that uses the creative art making process to help individuals express feelings, gain insight, resolve conflict, solve problems, explore difficult issues, increase self-esteem, reduce stress and manage behavior.

History of Art Therapy
In the 1940’s, a time when there was focus on progressive education and more humane treatment of mental patients, psychiatrists started to become interested in the art work of the mentally ill and educators recognized that children’s art reflected their developmental and emotional state.  About this time Margaret Naumburg, a former educator, began writing on a new therapeutic approach that included the use of art.  Naumburg went on to teach on this subject, helping to start an academic program in the field and today she is considered a founder of art therapy.

How Art Therapy is Used

Art therapy has been used with a wide range of people, from young children to the elderly, with a broad range of experiences.  Some examples of how art therapy has been used include work with women who have experienced domestic violencethose who have survived war and the mentally ill.  There is also research on the use of art therapy as a tool in treating cancer patients and those with Alzheimer’s disease .  Art therapy is even used by large aid organizations, like International Medical Corps.

Art making is a universal experience, making it possible to use art therapy as a method for expression, communication and healing with individuals from various countries and cultural and social backgrounds. Art truly is a universal human language.

More Information on Art Therapy
For more information about art therapy you can visit these sites:
American Art Therapy Association

International Art Therapy Association
International Expressive Arts Therapy Association

9 thoughts on “What is Art Therapy?

    • Thanks for your comment, glad you found this post helpful. Art therapy is an interesting career field. Good luck!

      ~ Sally

    • Thanks for your comment! I am pleased to hear you are interested in this field and I wish you the best as you work toward your degree. I hope you continue to share your thoughts here.

      ~ Sally

    • Thanks for your questions!

      Art therapy combines traditional therapy and art making. Engaging people with their creativity can help them to be more insightful as they work through problems. Art therapy can also help reduce stress, work through traumatic experiences and help with expressing things that may be too difficult to express verbally.

      ~ Sally

  1. Pingback: Our 3 Most Popular Posts in 2010 « SpeakArtLoud

  2. I’ve heard that mentally ill people can create beautiful pictures. Maybe, that’s because they are looking inside themselves more frequently than others? So, if we will also look inside ourselves and try to express our emotions (for instance, anger, irritation etc) using paints and colors, not words, maybe, it would help us to improve our mood, outlook or whatever… Well, I think I’ll try this technique next time I won’t be able to find words to express my emotions.

    • Hi Susy,

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I think creating art, or even just experiencing art, is a great way to connect with our emotions. Art can help us express our feelings even if we do not understand or have the words to explain what we feel.

      I hope you do try to use paint and color to express yourself!

      ~ Sally

      * * *Sally R. Peters ** ** | ** *

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s