What Is Art Therapy and What Are its Benefits?

Ever hear that a picture is worth a thousand words? For those who participate in art therapy, a picture can mean the world - for example if they are suffering from mental illness. Art therapists seek to free people’s minds from pain through the medium of art.

What is art therapy? It is a mental health discipline that uses various art media to deal with mental issues that an individual experiences. Art therapy works for all age groups. It teaches interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, deals with trauma, stress, depression, behavioral issues and other mental challenges you might face.

A typical art therapy program uses painting, drawing, sculpting, and other media to encourage self-expression on the part of the client. Through their art, they learn to express their emotions and the therapist can “see” what they are feeling or trying to hide from others. Art therapy has been helpful to people from all walks of life and in a variety of settings. From hospitals to community centers to wellness centers to church groups, art therapy can break down walls and reach the individual inside to change their lives.

Art therapists not only learn about the individual through their art but through the teaching of art. Everyone is not a sculptor naturally, but can learn to mold and create with their hands. The process of learning to create the art is as beneficial to the client as the art itself.

Through this creative process, art therapists learn to evaluate not only the client but their art form and all aspects of the experience to come up with treatment for their condition. Art therapy is done in a relaxed setting that is not threatening to the client or clients. Families can participate in art therapy to resolve their issues. The use of art is about uplifting the person while delving into their problem.

Because you are dealing with mental health and other delicate issues, art therapists are licensed professionals with master’s level degrees in their field of psychological endeavor. They are trained in psychotherapy, art therapy, counseling and also how to administer art therapy with a variety of groups and individuals and in different settings. Their expertise extends to recognizing the subtleties in various art forms used in their practice.

The benefits of art therapy are significant. Where traditional therapies fail to make a connection with some, art therapy focuses on the life-affirming qualities of the process and the individual. You can talk if you wish but your art does the talking for you. Through art, those who can’t or won’t express their pain in words can be drawn out from their shell and let the pain flow through their work. It is great for small children who lack the vocabulary for explanations.