Art therapy is an established 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. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.
Art therapy integrates the fields of human development, visual art, and the creative process with models of counseling and psychotherapy. Art therapy is used with children, adolescents, adults, older adults, groups and families to assess and treat the following: anxiety, depression, emotional problems and disorders, mental illness, substance abuse, relationship issues, social and emotional difficulties related to illness and disability, trauma, loss, neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.
Art therapy programs are found in a number of settings including hospitals, clinics, public and community agencies, wellness centers, educational institutions, and private practices. Art therapy can also be integrated into existing programs whereby the therapists can co-treat groups and individuals to maximize their potential.
Art therapists are master’s level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experience in a clinical setting. (American Art Therapy Association)