the Refuge

The art of Self discovery...Creativity, Healing and Spirituality

About Art Therapy..."A picture is worth a thousand words"

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.

History of Art Therapy

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.

Benefits of Art Therapy

  • Serves as a container to hold and organize feelings and experiences
  • Gives symbolic shape to chaotic feelings and experiences
  • Provides distance to safely express feelings and experiences
  • Offers opportunity to "work through" and "re-work" feelings and experiences
  • Encourages positive risk taking
  • Gives symbolic shape to unconscious life and emotional defenses
  • Serves as a permanent and tangible record of life experiences
  • Provides the opportunity to be seen and heard
  • Integrates internal and external experiences
  • Encourages creative physical action to express emotional content
  • Serves as a springboard for verbal communication
  • Provides the opportunity to become quiet and grounded
  • Offers the opportunity for creative problem solving
  • Encourages cooperation with a group setting, decreasing isolation
  • Encourages frustration tolerance
  • Provides the opportunity for ritual and memorial
  • Increases: Self Esteem, Self Worth, Self Reflection, Perspective, Mastery and Control, Decision Making Skills, Impulse Control, Integration, Insight, Sense of Identity, Sense of Balance and Sense of Wholeness.

The American Art Therapy Association:

Jennifer Mauro, MPS, ATR-BC for Rita Project - 2004

Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved: Sharon Strouse