We all have different ways of expressing our emotions. Some of us like to talk about how we feel; others like to keep a journal. For some, using art as a form of expression makes the most sense. Therapists search for the best option to help their patients deal with the stresses and challenges of life, and art therapy is one of those options.
Art therapy uses art creation to help people who experience trauma, illness or other life challenges. Trained art therapists work with their patients to use the creative process to resolve issues, reduce stress and achieve personal insight. Art therapy stresses the art-making process - not the end result, using a variety of techniques to help patients address their problems and achieve results.
Who benefits from art therapy?
Art therapy can be used to treat a variety of conditions and isn't bound to a specific age group. The American Art Therapy Association, the professional organization for art therapy in the United States, notes that several different kinds of people may benefit, including:
- Survivors of trauma resulting from combat, abuse and natural disaster
- People with adverse physical health conditions such as cancer, traumatic brain injury and other health disabilities
- People suffering from medical and psychological conditions such as autism, dementia, depression and eating disorders
How can I find a qualified art therapist?
The AATA provides registration for art therapists upon the completion of a postgraduate degree in the field. In addition to registration, the Art Therapy Credentials Board provides board certification to registered art therapists who pass a written examination and maintain their certification through continuing education.
While most people don't initially seek an art therapist when exploring their counseling options, other mental health professionals will often refer patients to art therapy if they believe their patients might find it helpful.
If you believe that you or a loved one might benefit from art therapy, talk to your installation's military treatment facility to find out what is available in your area. You can also visit the AATA website to learn more about art therapy and its benefits.