Using Art to Heal


For those considering a career in the arts, therapy may not be the first idea that comes to mind. However, many hospitals, crisis centers, schools, and rehabilitation facilities are implementing art therapy. As a growing field, art therapy allows clients to apply themselves creatively, expressing their emotions through various artistic forms. Then, facilitated by an art therapist, they reflect on the work they create.

Become an Art Therapist

To become an art therapist, you need more than a degree in the arts. Instead, you need a master’s degree in Art Therapy from a higher education institution approved by the American Art Therapy Association. In your education, you will expand past your education in the arts, studying human development, therapy (in both group and individual settings), as well as multicultural studies.

How it works

For many, past trauma, daily stressors, anxiety, and pain can be difficult to express in more traditional forms of therapy, where language is the main form of communicating feelings. Art therapy gives a voice to experiences that go beyond words. It does so, by also momentarily taking the mind off emotional issue at hand. It rechannels and refocuses the mind on a separate, creative task. Through the creative process inherent to the arts, the client will find themselves  expressing their emotions through their artistic creations.

It is then the job of the art therapist, deft in their ability to pick up on nonverbal cues and symbols hidden in the artwork, to explore these emotions with the client. In doing so, they can guide their clients to achieving personal insight.  

The Goal

The benefits for art therapy are numerous. Many find that it reduces anxiety, improves their interpersonal skills, and allows them to discover a deeper understanding to themselves. It can be practiced in a variety of settings, from individual therapy, to couple, family, and group settings as well. To learn more about art therapy, how to become an art therapist, or to find an art therapist near you, visit the American Art Therapy Association’s website.

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