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What is Art Therapy?

What is Art Therapy and How Can it Contribute to Healing?


As defined by the American Art Therapy Association,


Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.


Art therapy, facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supports personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. Art therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change.



Art Therapy is a dynamic and integrative approach to healing that combines creative self-expression- drawing, painting, writing, sculpting, collaging, knitting, sewing, movement, sound and/or performing- with supportive and non-judgmental talk therapy.  


Art Therapy has the ability to incorporate healing processes that might involve creating and destroying, layering and peeling, attaching and detaching, covering and uncovering, wrapping and unwrapping, smoothing and scratching, constructing and deconstructing, containing and releasing, and protecting and revealing.  


One can engage with the art materials with the intention of exploring and playing or with the intention to create an image or form representative of an internal feeling, experience or symbol that expresses an important internal message externally.



 To understand the nature of art therapy, it may be helpful to evaluate our own understandings of ‘art’ and ‘therapy’ separately and together.


In a basic way, one can define ‘art’ as involving the culmination of one’s imagination and the creative process to call into existence that which did not exist before.  It is important to recognize that art can take various forms, such as that of abstracted shapes, colors and lines on a canvas, a sculpture made out of found objects and discarded items, or a drawing of a recognizable object that becomes a metaphor for various thoughts or emotions.  


One might understand ‘therapy’ as a potentially healing and dynamic process that involves a supportive, trusting, non-judgmental and attentive relationship between the client and the therapist, which is based on agreed upon goals .  The therapeutic process is meant to improve one’s overall functioning and sense of well-being.  


When we combine these terms together, art & therapy, we encounter a therapeutic space which allows for both verbal and non-verbal forms of self-expression to be honored and valued as essential to healing and self-awareness.


About Holistic Health Counseling Center

We provide Counseling, Psychotherapy and Art Therapy to adults, children, adolescents, couples, and families.

Using a holistic approach to mental health and a client-centered approach to counseling, we use a wide range of therapeutic techniques and interventions to help you overcome the issues that brought you to therapy.

Effective therapy is collaborative and interactive. We are here to help you feel better and overcome obstacles with the tools and techniques you need to move forward positively in your life. For more information, visit our website: Holistic Health Counseling Center

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