Art therapy is based on the belief that the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life enhancing. Through creating art and talking about art and the process of art making with an Art Therapist, one can increase awareness of self, cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences, enhance cognitive abilities, and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of artistic creativity.
Art Therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy and hold a Masters Degree in Art Therapy or a related field. Art Therapists work with children, adolescents, and adults and provide services to individuals, couples, family groups and communities. They often work as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices. Art Therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, clay, collage, and other mediums) for treatment and assessment and conduct research as well as provide consultations to applied professionals.
Although visual expressions have been basic to humanity throughout history, art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the late 1930's. At the beginning of the 20th century, psychiatrists became interested in the art work done by patients, and studied it to see if there was a link between art and the illness of their patients. At the same time, art educators were discovering that the free and spontaneous art expressions of children represented both emotional and symbolic communications. Since then, the profession of art therapy has grown into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment with many populations.